Defeated and eliminated by the details
History repeated itself once again on Wednesday at the Toumba, with PAOK slipping to a 2-1 defeat by Krasnodar in the second leg of their Champions League Play Offs and waving goodbye to the dream of a place in the group stage.
For long spells in the first half, PAOK controlled the game against the Russians, and missed several good chances to score. The the home side saw luck turn against them and they fell behind. PAOK did pull level quickly, but Krasnodar’s response was just as immediate and ultimately decided the outcome of the tie.
The Double-headed Eagle lined up with the same starting XI as coach Abel Ferreira had selected for the first game at the Krasnodar Stadium, and the plan was seemingly working in the first half.
For 45 minutes PAOK pushed Krasnodar onto the ropes and wasted several good opportunities to open the scoring, the best of which were squandered by Andrija Zivkovic and Jose Crespo. Unfortunately a goal was not forthcoming and the half-time whistle blew with the scores at 0-0.
In the second half the pattern of play did not alter much. Krasnodar tried to close down the spaces all over the pitch and hold on to possession, while PAOK had control of the game and tried continuously to find a route to Safonov’s goal.
That was until the 73rd minute. Luck was not on the side of Giannis Michailidis, who accidentally diverted the ball past his own goalkeeper as a ball came in low from the left flank.
Just a minute later, Vilhena fired in a shot on goal which Zivko Zivkovic saved, but Cabella was following up on the rebound and gleefully scored from close range to effectively end the tie there and then,
The final minutes were merely a formality, with Swiderski wasting just one more chance in the 81st minute.
As Abel Ferreira had commented on the eve of the game, tonight’s match would be positive, or hitoric. In the end it was simply positive, but still, PAOK’s European adventure this season does not end here.
PAOK will return to the group stage of the UEFA Europa League and is awaiting to discover its opponents on Friday (02.10) when the draw will be made.
Krasnodar (Musaev): Safonov, Petrov, Martinovic, Kaio, Ramirez, Uktin (58’ Smolnikov), Gazinski (82’ Kambolov), Vilhena, Claesson, Berg, Cabella (85’ Suleymanov).