The qualifiers for the group stage of the Champions League continued today, and what a great evening it was! If in Austria, Red Bull Salzburg confirmed their superiority and demolished Shkendija (3-0), the other two games had drama from the start to the end.
In Greece, PAOK found themselves losing 0-2 before the minute 20 with a goal from Ivelin Popov and the other from the Dutch star Quincy Promes. The Russians were in a good position but they certainty did not wait for what was about to come. In the 29th minute Prijovic scored from the penalty spot and 8 minutes after Limnios scored the 2-2 after a great work on the right side of Leo Matos. The Brazilian had an amazing first half and on the 44th minute he once again destroyed the Russian defense. His effort was saved by Maksimenko but Pelkas was in the right place to get the rebound and sent the ball into the back of the net. 5 goals in a crazy first half!
In the second half Spartak tried to react and on the 70th minute Promes had a golden opportunity to score from the penalty spot but the Greek goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis reacted superbly and denied the goal with an amazing save. 3-2 was the final score and the Greek will try to do in Moscow the same they did in Basel, score an early goal and put extra pressure on Spartak.
In the other game with a Greek team fighting for a spot in the Champions League group stage, AEK Athens traveled to Scotland to play against Celtic. And just like it happened with PAOK, the first minutes were very tough, Celtic had a few chances and on the 17th minute Callum McGregor opened the score. The home team continued to pressure with tons of crosses and middle range shots. In the last 5 minutes of the first half AEK finally managed to get away from the pressure, with Helder Lopes as the main protagonist. First the Portuguese fullback saw his shot saved by Craig Gordon, but on the 44th minute he found Klonaridis with a perfect cross and the Belgian scored the 1-1.
The second half was more of the same, with Celtic attacking with all their heart. Things got even harder for AEK when on the 57th minute Galanopoulos was sent off after a 2nd yellow card in less than 10 minutes. The home team had several chances but a heroic performance allows the Greek side to go back home with the away goal advantage. Is also known that Celtic is a much better team at home, so this time they will need to be much better in Greece than what they usually are in the away matches if they want to go trough.