PAOK qualified on Thursday to the knock-out stages of the Europa League by beating Shakhter Karagandy 2-0 in Kazakhstan, with all the action coming in the second half of the game.
The Thessaloniki team shook off the freezing conditions at Astana – although the sliding roof protected players and fans from the -10 degrees temperature – the artificial pitch and the jet lag (Astana is four hours ahead of Thessaloniki), to play a sold game in the first half, when other teams such as Celtic had had a hard time finding their feet in Kazakhstan earlier this season.
PAOK scored its first goal nine minutes into the second half with a spectacular swerving shot by Lucas that came off a defender’s knee to end up in the hosts’ net.
After the hour mark Shakhter pushed forward and came mighty close to equalizing in the 73rd minute, but Roger Canas Henao’s shot went just wide in the Kazakh team’s best chance in the game.
PAOK sealed its victory in injury time as Dimitris Salpingidis spotted Stelios Kitsiou at the edge of the six-yard box and the young defender made it 2-0 with his first goal ever in European competitions.
The Greeks have collected 11 points from five games and in the last match in their group they will face AZ Alkmaar in Thessaloniki on December 12.