Champions League – Greek teams smile, Red Bull Salzburg almost qualified

gh

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.

dd
Image from PAOK twitter: @PAOK_FC

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.

cx
Image from AEK twitter on: @AEK_FC_OFFICIAL

 

 

PAOK destroys FC Basel and waits for Spartak Moscow on the next round

gh

PAOK had a very dominant win this evening, beating Basel 3-0. The Greek side was traveling to Switzerland with a short advantage after the 2-1 win at home but on the 7th minute a Petkas corner found the Cape Verdean Fernando Varela who opened the score.

After that the game went on a very typical way, with Basel pushing with everything but giving space for the counters. And was from one of those moves that Prijovic scored the second in the beginning of the second half and killed the game. 6 minutes later El Kaddouri with a nice shot from outside the box scored the 3rd. PAOK will now face Spartak Moscow in the next round.

On the other games the only surprise was the elimination of Ludogorets in the hands of the Hungarian side MOL Vidi. After the 0-0 of the first hand, a Hadzic goal was enough to seal the qualifying for the next round. Maybe the name MOL Vidi does not tell you a lot as this club was until recently known as Videoton. Their main sponsor is the Hungarian oil and gas multinational MOL, so for this reason they had to change their name.

 

Completed this round we now know the 10 games of the third qualifying round of the Champions League:

Celtic (SCO) v AEK Athens (GRE)
Salzburg (AUT) v Shkëndija (MKD)
Crvena zvezda (SRB) v Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Qarabağ (AZE) v BATE Borisov (BLR)
Astana (KAZ) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Malmö (SWE) v Vidi (HUN)

Standard Liège (BEL) v Ajax (NED)
Benfica (POR) v Fenerbahçe (TUR)
Slavia Praha (CZE) v Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)
PAOK (GRE) v Spartak Moskva (RUS)