THESSALONIKI — PAOK’s European fate was once again blindingly obviously at the Toumba. Any chance of progressing from the group stage was lost in the two games against Omonia. The Double-headed Eagle played well against Granada, who needed to win to claim first place in the group. Not only did the hosts not allow this to happen, but they also enjoyed the lion’s share of the best scoring opportunities that would have seen them get the victory.
As was demonstrated in the pre-match comments on Wednesday (09.12), PAOK were far from indifferent about this match with the Spaniards. The coaching team gave starting berths to Lyratzis and Koutsias , with the latter making a piece of history by becoming the youngest ever PAOK to play in a European competition, breaking Stavros Sarafis’ record.
Esiti and Colak were also in the starting XI, along with Murg , El Kaddouri and Tziolis. Crespo filled in for the suspended Giannoulis on the left of defence, while Paschalakis, Varela and Ingason were the other defensive starters.
The game began with Granada trying to control the ball and put pressure on Paschalakis’s goal, with the big goalkeeper reacting well in the fourth quarter to deny Molina from the Spaniard’s best chance after 13 minutes, while Ingason also made a chance-saving tackle in the 22nf minute, again from Molina.
PAOK then managed to balance the game out, while also looking to threaten. The best chance came in the 44th minute, with Murg sending over a precise set-piece that Varela headed onto the crossbar.
In the second half, A. Zivkovic and Tsiggaras came off the bench to offer some freshness to the team. On the other hand, Diego Martinez threw on all the attacking players he had available to him, but failed to find a goal against the resolute Double-headed Eagle defence lead by Paschalakis .
Granada’s attempts to push everyone forward to try and grab a goal meant that space opened up for PAOK, and in the end the final score seemed somewhat unfair on PAOK, who missed a couple of good chances to wrap up a win. Swiderski failed to score fro ma good position on the break, and during the final minutes El Kaddouri, Swiderski again, and Crespo all failed to convert chances.
The result is that PAOK conclude a European journey that began at the end of August and was one full of mixed emotions, with qualifiers and eliminations, as well as joy and bitterness.
The club will take the valuable lessons learned and is now focusing on its domestic obligations, starting with Sunday’s game against Aris.
PAOK: Paschalakis , Lyratzis (63’ Wague ), Ingason , Varela , Crespo , Esiti (63’ Douglas), El Kaddouri , Murg , Koutsias (46’ Tsiggaras), Tziolis (46’ Α.Ζivkovicί), Colak.
Granada: Aaron, Foulquier, Nehuen, Migia (75’ Gonalons), German, Eteki (85’ Soldado), Molina, Kenedy (67’ Suarez), Soro (75’ Machis), Puertas, Pepe (66’ Neva).
Meanwhile in England, AEK FC lost 2-0 Leicester City at King Power Stadium in a game of Matchday 6 of UEFA Europa League 2020-21 Group Stage.
Cengiz Under and Harvey Barnes scored for the host team at the early stages of the match. Zorya Luhansk-Braga 2-0 in the other match of Group G. Leicester City and Sporting Braga went through knock out stage