A result of self-confidence
PAOK held AFC Ajax in Amsterdam Arena for a 1-1 result that is considered ideal for an away European encounter.
The “Double-Headed Eagle” proved that they have the edge to put on commanding performances in their away European encounters against mighty opponents.
The two opponents were rather cautious in their first official encounter of the season and kept a low pace. Until the 10th minute, there was no actual chance to score recorded nor was there a goal attempt in the first 20 minutes. At that point, Panagiotis Glykos saw Reidewald’s shot rattle his crossbar. This shot served as wake-up call for PAOK. They came close to an opener with Garry Rodrigues’s header on a Léo Matos’s cross. In the 27th minute, the Thessaloniki outfit weaved an ideal counterattack. Djalma Campos ran on to Stefanos Athanasiadis’s pass, rounded the goalkeeper and broke the deadlock from a very acute angle.
PAOK had the momentum and it was confirmed by an excellent combination between Marin Leovac and Rodrigues and a wasted header of Athanasiadis in the 33rd minute. The first half ended with PAOK in the lead and AFC Ajax having more possession but zero inspiration.
After the interval, the two teams kept the same pace and PAOK played the scoreboard. AFC Ajax pressured and managed to equalize with a right-footed shot by Kasper Dolberg from outside the box. It served as another wake-up call for PAOK who gained more ground and came agonizingly close to take the lead again through a header by –the best player on the pitch-Giorgos Tzavellas.
The rest of the encounter was rather uneventful as Vladan Ivić’s troops followed the plan and held on to a very good result ahead of next week’s second leg in Toumba Stadium.
AFC Ajax: Cillessen, Τete, Veltman, Viergever, Dijks, Reidewald, Van de Beek (77′ Schöne), Klaassen, El Ghazi (88′ Černý), Cassierra (58′ Younes), Dolberg.
PΑΟΚ: Glykos, Μatos, Crespo, Τzavellas, Shakhov, Charisis (69′ Τziolis), Cimirot, Rodrigues (84′ Μystakidis), Campos, Αthanasiadis (91′ Κoulouris)