PAOK suffered a heavy blow to its Champions League aspirations for the new season after going down to Ukraine’s Metalist Kharkiv 2-0 on Tuesday behind closed doors at Thessaloniki, in the first leg of the competition’s third qualifying round.
Serving a ban from the behavior of its fans from last season, PAOK hosted Metalist in front of empty stands, with the exception of a couple of hundred visiting supporters.
In its first competitive game of the season PAOK appeared poorly prepared for the encountered that could have secured it European soccer for the rest of 2013, with Metalist making the most of errors in the Greek defense.
First it earned a penalty after 42 minutes, a Miguel Vitor handball in the box, with Marko Devic scoring from the spot a minute later, while in the 72nd a solo effort by Devic made it 2-0, a damage that appears to be beyond repair for PAOK.
Toward the end Metalist could have added insult to injury with a third goal, but it was denied by PAOK keeper Jacobo and the woodwork.
The return leg is in Ukraine next week.