SPORTS

Panathinaikos and PAOK in Europa League play-offs

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

Panathinaikos and PAOK scored victories on Thursday and advanced to the play-offs of the Europe League, while Panionios fell to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Athens.

Panathinaikos was clearly the better team in Baku and beat Qabala 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate to emphatically avenge its elimination from the same competition two years ago.

The Azeris escaped conceding a goal at the Greens’ numerous first-half chances and even went ahead six minutes after the interval through a Rodrigo Moledo own goal.

Just as Lady Luck seemed to have turned its back on Panathinaikos, Robin Lod equalized with a spectacular volley 12 minutes later and substitute Bryan Cabezas gave the Greeks an elusive away win in Europe with a solo effort and a great left-foot shot, both goals coming within three minutes.

PAOK successfully handled the 1-1 first-leg score from Ukraine and beat Olimpik Donetsk 2-0 at home on Thursday for a 3-1 total score.

Both goals came in the first half, with Robert Mak opening the score on the 24th minute and Gojko Cimirot stretching PAOK’s advantage in the first-half injury time.

PAOK showed some considerable improvement from the first leg and was never really troubled by the Ukrainians at Toumba.

Panionios, on the other hand, played a nervous game at Nea Smyrni and lost 1-0 for the second time in a week, as Maccabi made its experience in European competitions tell.

The Greeks created a few chances but missed them all, and were unlucky to see Panayiotis Korbos score an own goal on the 78th minute after a corner kick from the right by Maccabi.

The draw for the Europa League play-offs, which AEK Athens, AEK Larnaca and Apollon Limassol will also enter, is taking place on Friday aftermoon.

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