PAOK fail to beat Slovan but are still in with a shout
PAOK missed out on a golden chance to celebrate qualification to the knoackout stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League after being held to a 0-0 draw against Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia, an the Double-headed Eagle will have to wait until the final Matchday 6 in two week’s time to try to progress.
The Double-headed Eagle could have sealed their ticket to the knock-out stages with a victory tonight, but although the visitors were superior throughout the game at the Tehelne Pole, PAOK could not find the goal that would have given them the three points. The goalless draw means PAOK and the Slovaks remain tied with eight points, with Slovan having a one-goal lead in the goal difference with a record of 8-5 against PAOK’s 6-4.
Now in their last match, PAOK need a better result than the Slovaks, who will face Copenhagen away from home – the Danes beating Lincoln 4-0 away on Thursday and locking up top spot in the process – or a victory over Lincoln at the Toumba by two more goals that Slovan score if they manage to win in Denmark. If the Slovaks lose, a draw is enough for PAOK, if they draw, a victory by any margin will be enough to send the Double-headed Eagle through.
PAOK dominated the game in Bratislava on the night, controlling much of the possession, while also creating several good opportunities to score, but unfortunately the visitors could not find a way to break the deadlock.
Razvan Lucescu’s team came out strong from the first whistle, showing urgency and creativity as their tried to threaten the home goal, but goalkeeper Hovan produced a good save to deny Kurtic’s free-kick after just six minutes. After 11 minutes Sidcley also failed to convert a good chance, while Biseswar then had three more decent chances to score but failing to do so. The Slovaks threatened in the 43rd minute with a shot from Medvedev in what was their only important opportunity of the first half, with the ball sailing wide.
The second half started with PAOK once more taking the initiative and looking for the opening goal, while the hosts tried to hit on the counter-attack – which they almost did in the 60th minute but Paschalakis was alert to save well from Green’s header.
Lucescu brought on all of his offensive weapons from the bench as the half wore on, and PAOK lay siege to the Slovan final third, but substitute Swiderksi passed up three chance to find the net and the game ended goalless.
Slovan Bratislava (Vladimir Weiss): Hovan, Medvedev, Kasia, Bozikov, De Marco, Agbo, Ibrahim, Green (70′ Cavric), Weiss, Zmrhal (70′ Drazic), Hedi.