- Heartbreak for PAOK... -
uefa champions league - 3rd qualifying round, leg 2
|PAOK||1 - 2||Ajax|
|Athanasiadis 4'||(2 - 3)
|Klaassen (p) 45'+1', 87'|
After a great start to the match, PAOK was unable to come away with the result they were looking for, falling 1-2 to Ajax in Thessaloniki. The Dutch side found a late winner to progress to the Champions League Playoff Qualifying Round sending PAOK to the Europa League Playoff Qualifying Round.
PAOK got off to a tremendous start with Athanasiadis scuffing the ball into the back of the net from Rodrigues’ corner. The goal gave PAOK the clear advantage over Ajax with the 2-1 aggregate lead. Ajax controlled possession in hopes of responding with a goal of their own, but the better opportunities fell to PAOK. Athanasiadis failed to double the hosts lead on multiple one-on-one opportunities and in the final minutes of the half, Ajax was awarded a penalty after a harsh decision from English referee Anthony Taylor. Klaasen made no mistake from the spot and the teams went into the break tied 1-1.
PAOK was the better side in the first 10 minutes of the second half creating chances through Rodrigues (46’) and Tzavellas (54’). For 20 minutes the pace of the game fell as neither team created great opportunities to score. PAOK came close to the go ahead goal in the 74th minute, but Mystakidis’ header was denied by the crossbar. With the game heading for extra time, Klaasen struck again with his second goal of the match, silencing the fans with only three minutes remaining. Ajax’s second away goal meant that PAOK needed 2 goals in the final minutes to advance. The final whistle came from Englishmen Anthony Taylor, sending Ajax to the Champions league Playoff Qualifying Round.
PAOK will see this a wasted opportunity to progress in Champions League qualifying after a great result in the first leg and great start in today’s match. Despite the defeat, the Dikefalos tou Vora were not the favorites to advance and will now continue in the Europa League Playoff Qualifying Round with their goal to reach the competition's group stage.