Qualification in 30 minutes
PAOK needed just half an hour to dispatch Besiktas at an empty – due to Covid-19 – and rainy Toumba Stadium, producing a smart display to rubber stamp a place in the UEFA Champions League 3rd qualifying round.
Sometimes you only need to see the looks in the eyes of the players as they walk out onto the pitch to understand what’s going to happen in the coming minutes. And the eyes of Abel Ferreira’s players looked to be on fire.
Right from match referee Daniele Doveri’s opening whistle to signal the start of the game, the Doubled-headed Eagle players ran, pressed and battled, and the result was that inside the first half an hour the home side were 3-0 up.
The game’s outstanding player was Christos Tzolis . The young ace scored twice and also provided an assist on what was his European debut for the club.
He opened the scoring in the eighth minute from Dimitris Giannoulis’ assist, and in the 24th minute he found the back of the net for a second time following an assist from Chuba Akpom. In the 30th minute, the youngster then took on the role of creator, latching on to a pass from Akpom before teeing up Dimitris Pelkas to tap home to make it 3-0.
Besiktas reduced the deficit in the 37th minute when Larcin prodded the ball home clinically from close range, but from that point PAOK showed composure to manage the match perfectly until the final whistle, and the home side could, in fact, have scored more goals. Akpom’s missed penalty in the 41st minute was one of the best chances, when the Englishman was thwarted by Ersin.
Neither side slowed their tempo down in the second half, with the Double-headed Eagle having the better chances through Dimitris Limnios and Tzolis. The visitors desperately searched for goals as the game entered the final 20 minutes, but they failed to find a way past PAOK’s solid defence, and when called upon, goalkeeper Zivko Zivkovic managed to make two very good saves from Umut Nayir.
As a result, PAOK made it two wins out of two in European ties against teams from Turkey, eliminating Besiktas and securing a place at least in the UEFA Europa League group stage. However, PAOK remain on course for a place in the Champions League and the club will discover its opponents for the 3rd qualifying round in next Monday’s draw.
Besiktas (Sergen Yalcin): Destanoglou, N’Sakala (82’ Nayir), Welinton, Vida, Lens, Hutchinson, Uysal, Boyd (46’ Ozyakup), Mensah (70’ Tokoz), Nkoudou, Larin.