Schalke denies PAOK place in Champions League group stage

Schalke 04 scored twice after being reduced to 10 men to win 3-2 at PAOK and reach the Champions League group stage on Tuesday night.

The German side, held 1-1 at home by PAOK last week, knew they were in for a tough time in Greece, even though the match was played behind closed doors because of crowd trouble at a Europa League qualifier last year.

Adam Szalai gave Schalke the lead just before halftime but it all went wrong for the Germans when Stefanos Athanasiadis rifled home a 53rd minute equalizer and Jermaine Jones was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 64th.

Julian Draxler came to their rescue when he sprinted on to Max Meyer’s through ball to score from a narrow angle in the 67th, but PAOK revived their hopes when Kostas Katsouranis flicked a back header into the net with 11 minutes left.

Schalke finally settled the tie in the last minute when Draxler set up Hungary forward Szalai to score from close range.

“We make it difficult for ourselves,” said Schalke coach Jens Keller. “We let too many goals in these days. These are mistakes that should not happen. But what matters is that we are through.” [Reuters]