Ferreira: “Other factors shaped the result”
Following the dramatic 3:2 defeat to Ajax in the UEFA Champions League, PAOK head coach Abel Ferreira expressed his disappointment, while his opposite number Erik ten Hag praised the opponents.
Despite being huge underdogs in the tie, PAOK struck first in Amsterdam, as Diego Biseswar scored with a fine effort. However, Dusan Tadic then equalised from the penalty spot at the second time of asking, before Nicolas Tagliafico handed Ajax the lead in the second half. Tadic converted another spot-kick in the latter stages, and while Biseswar scored a second in added time, it wasn’t enough for PAOK to pull off a major shock.
Abel Ferreira was naturally feeling bitter in his press-conference: “I don’t think that the opponents caused us a lot of problems,” stated Ferreira. “The difference was the fact Ajax had three penalties. I don’t want to waste my time talking about the referee. Our job is to try hard both in matches and in training. I am sure that our fans are proud of their team, and I cannot use my energy thinking about the referees. I want to make it clear that two big teams played against each other today.”
“The only thing which counts is the result,” continued the 40-year-old Portuguese manager. “We lose together, but this is just the beginning of a very long season. I am pleased with how my players performed. Unfortunately, there were other factors which shaped the result. Ajax have enough quality to win matches on their own without any help.”
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag couldn’t remember being given three penalties in one game: “PAOK have a very good team, they almost beat Benfica in the Champions League last year and they won the domestic championship unbeaten. I cannot remember having three penalties during one match. APOEL? Until now, we’ve only been thinking about PAOK.”
Diego Biseswar, who scored the two PAOK goals and conceded a penalty for handball, expressed his feelings: “We started very well, and Ajax didn’t know how to cope with our pressing,” revealed the Dutchman. “We scored a goal, but then two penalties were given to Ajax. The referee played an important role. I am proud of our effort, we showed Europe what we can do, but we haven’t achieved our goal of qualification. We played against one of the best European teams, but the referee wasn’t at that level.”
Omar El Kaddouri also vented his fury at English referee Craig Pawson: “What happened is shameful. UEFA need to take a look at this. I feel as though we were playing against 12 players. I don’t remember anything like this in my career. Playing against a good team, we knew it would be difficult, and we are all now disappointed. We did our best, but we didn’t succeed.”