PAOK recovered in 2nd half
PAOK were held to a goalless draw by Qäbäla FC on matchday 5 of the UEFA Europa League, in a match with no qualifying interest. Krasnodar’s earlier win over Borussia Dortmund ended all last-32 ambitions before kick-off.
PAOK were better throughout the encounter, but the Azeri side defended brilliantly especially in the first half. Igor Tudor’s players were looking for space, but were obviously affected by their last negative results.
The PAOK side that came out of the locker rooms in the second half were different, much more similar to the one who would gain the applause of the fans earlier in the season. Pressing, quicker in planning and delivering, camped outside their rival’s box and created many chances. None was converted, but they were correctly executed.
Erik Sabo was key after the interval with his self-confident display and tenacity, proving why he was acquired by PAOK in the first place. But he did waste a glorious occasion to put the game to bed, when failing to score on open goal after being teed up by Dimitar Berbatov.
Alexandros Tziolis, Garry Rodrigues, Róbert Mak and Stefanos Athanasiadis also wasted opportunities to break the deadlock and PAOK’s recent goalless streak. But, even so, the fans applauded the players’ effort and obvious desire to return to their winning ways.
PAOK travel to Dortmund on matchday 6, in a match with no qualification interest as all ambition was ended on Thursday by Krasnodar’s win over the German side. The “Double-Headed Eagle” who began their European journey on 16 July in the 2nd qualifying round, must now focus their attention on the domestic front, starting with the Mytilini encounter against AEL Kalloni.
PAOK: Glykos, Skondras, Malezas, Tzavellas, Rodrigues, Kitsiou (78′ Athanasiadis), Tziolis, Pelkas (46′ Sabo), Berbatov (71′ Mystakidis), Mak, Kace.
Qäbäla FC: Bezotosniy, Ricardinho, Stanković, Rafael, Dashdemirov, Sadygov (88′ Jamalov), Gai, Zargarov (83′ Mirzabekov), Zec, Zenjov (77′ Javadov), Antonov.