PAOK rules in Israel as Asteras draws

PAOK scored an emphatic 2-0 win over Bnei Yehuda in Israel for the first leg of the Europa League third qualifying round on Thursday, while Asteras Tripolis drew 1-1 with Portuguese side Maritimo in the Peloponnese.

The results mean that PAOK is the huge favorite to make the competition’s playoffs that lead to the group stage, while Asteras will need to score in Portugal in the second leg on August 9 to qualify.

PAOK was clearly the better team at Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, and took the lead in the 62nd minute through a Giorgos Georgiadis shot.

The Thessaloniki club doubled its lead 10 minutes later through a Stefanos Athanasiadis tap-in from close range that reduced the return match at Toumba to a mere formality next week.

In its third ever match in Europe, after the two drawn games with Inter Baku last month, Asteras Tripolis played a composed game against the far more experienced Maritimo.

The Greeks scored at the start of the second half thanks to a pass by Ximo Navarro that found Ruben Rayos and he scored the opener on the night.

In the 72nd minute, though, Maritimo equalized as Fidelis capitalized on an error by the Asteras midfield and beat keeper Giorgos Bantis for 1-1.