Monday, May 10, 2021

Ajax held by PAOK in UEFA Champions League third qualifying round


tiamin rice

Former European champions Ajax Amsetrdam were held to a 2-2 draw at PAOK in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie on Tuesday.

Last season’s semi-finalists Ajax, who have won Europe’s premier club competition four times, made a perfect start in the cauldron of PAOK’s Tumba stadium.

Hakim Ziyech curled in a swerving free kick after 10 minutes.

Roared on by a fervent home crowd, PAOK turned the tide before half-time.

Striker Chuba Akpom capped a flowing move with a fine finish from 10 metres and defender Leo Matos headed home a Diego Biseswar free-kick.

Ajax, who suffered a last-gasp defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in last season’s semi-finals, piled on the pressure after the break.

Ziyech missed a glaring chance before substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar equalised with a bizarre goal on the hour.

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Fernando Varela’s poor clearance from Donny van de Beek’s cross rebounded off the 35-year old striker’s feet into the back of the net from close range.

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The visitors then dominated until the final whistle.

In other matches also played on Tuesday, Red Star Belgrade could only manage a 1-1 home draw against FC Copenhagen.

Azeri champions Qarabag took a big step towards the playoff round with a 2-1 win at Cypriot side APOEL.

But Dinamo Zagreb left their progress hanging in the balance after the Croats played out a 1-1 home draw against Hungary’s Ferencvaros.

A Hans Vaneken penalty kick late in the first half gave Bruges a 1-0 home win against Dynamo Kiev.

Red Star, the 1991 champions, conceded a late equaliser after their striker Milan Pavkov reaffirmed his reputation for scoring in big games just before the break.

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But he had to be forced off the pitch at half-time by a recurring hamstring injury.

Pavkov, who netted twice in last season’s memorable 2-0 home win over eventual UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool in the group stage, fired Red Star ahead in the 44th minute.

That was when he hooked a loose ball over goalkeeper Sten Michael Grytebust.

Pavkov made way for Richmond Boakye and the hosts were punished in the closing stages for the Ghanaian’s forward’s second-half profligacy.

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Boakye missed a pair of gilt-edged chances to double Red Star’s lead before midfielder Dusan Jovancic fouled Copenhagen substitute Mas Jaume in the penalty area.

Jonas Wind coolly converted the 84th minute penalty kick.

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Dinamo’s Spanish midfielder Dani Olmo fired them ahead with a superb goal in the seventh minute as he took a clever back-heel by Mislav Orsic in his stride.

He then nutmegged a defender and hit the far corner of the net with a crisp shot.

But Ferencvaros levelled against the run of play on the hour when David Siger beat Dominik Livakovic with a looping header after the goalkeeper had parried a shot from 10 metres.

Goals from Mair Emreli and Magaye Gueye gave Qarabag a 2-0 lead at APOEL before Giorgos Merkis pulled one back for the home sides in the 90th minute.

In Wednesday’s stand-out fixtures, 1967 European Cup winners Celtic visit Romania’s CFR Cluj while twice former champions FC Porto are away to Russians Krasnodar.


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