-- PAOK’s Mind on the Derby --
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - GROUP STAGE (GROUP J)
|Qarabag||2 - 0||PAOK|
With a terrible showing in Azerbaijan, PAOK easily fell to Qarabag 2-0 in their third match in Europa League group play. The Dikefalos tou Vora did not seem to have their mind on today’s fixture as the big derby against Olympiacos awaits this weekend. The hosts scored twice in the second half with PAOK creating only one good chance in the game.
Ivic displayed PAOK in a 4-3-3 formation with Glykos (GK), Leo Matos (RB), Varela (CB), Crespo (CB), Leovac (LB), Cimirot (MF), Canas (MF), Shakhov (MF), Campos (LWF), Thiam (CF), and Rodrigues (LWF), leaving Biseswar on the bench. Athanasiadis was ruled out due to injury.
In the opening half, PAOK gave space to the hosts as they controlled the possession and rhythm of the match. In the opening 20 minutes, Qarabag wasted two good opportunities before PAOK created their only chance of the game in the 23rd minute. Leo Matos’ cross was met by an acrobatic scissors kick from Shakhov, but a great save from Sehic kept the scores goalless. PAOK’s warning resulted in more conservative play from the hosts and the teams went into the break goalless.
Despite PAOK’s better play in the second half, the Dikefalos tou Vora went behind in the 56th minute when poor defending allowed Medvedev’s to easily play Quintana through on goal and his shot beat Glykos to give Qarabag the 1-0 lead. In hopes of making PAOK more offensive, Ivic put Biseswar into the match but the visitors continued to struggle on the attack. More lackluster defending allowed Qarabag to seal their victory in the 88th minute when Amirguliev was easily played in by Muarem and his shot found the back of the net to double Qarabag’s lead and margin of victory.
Qarabag’s win puts them right back into contention for second place in the group as they now have four points, along with PAOK. The Dikefalos tou Vora will need to earn all three points when they host the team from Azerbaijan in matchday 4, which will re-give them the advantage to qualify from Group J. In today’s other group match, Fiorentina defeated Liberec 1-3 and will likely claim top spot in the group.
CURRENT GROUP J STANDINGS