An offside goal by Brazilian Lima decided the first leg of the Europa League’s round of 32 between PAOK and Benfica in Thessaloniki on Thursday, with the Portuguese taking a 1-0 advantage ahead of the return game in Lisbon next week.
Benfica dominated the first 75 minutes of the game and deserved victory at the Toumba stadium, even if that came by way of a disputed goal. It created plenty of goal-scoring opportunities against a host that gave its fans little to cheer about on the night.
In a clear sign of its priority in defense, PAOK fielded three defensive midfielders, who had plenty of work on the night and all got booked.
Benfica led just before the hour mark as Filip Djuricic chested the ball to Lima – whom television replays showed he was in an offside position – and he slotted the ball into the PAOK net.
In the last 15 minutes of the game PAOK chased an equalizer, but the chances it produced were not enough for the Greek team to avoid a home defeat to a superior opponent.
PAOK has a mountain to climb in the second leg of the tie in Portugal on February 27, but its away record in the last few years does allow its fans to harbor some hopes.
The game took place in the presence of UEFA President Michel Platini.