There was a triple success for Greek soccer on Thursday as PAOK, Panathinaikos and Asteras Tripolis made it through to the Europa League group stage.
PAOK had a challenging task after a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of its playoff tie to Zimbru Chisinau in Moldova. But the Thessaloniki side made light work of its visitors, winning Thursday’s match 4-0.
Two of the goals came in the first half for Angelos Anastasiadis’s side and another two in the second 45.
Panathinaikos had a much easier task as it had beaten its Danish opponent, Midtjylland, 4-1 at home. Nevertheless, the Greens put on a professional performance in Denmark and came away with a 2-1 victory.
Things were much tighter for Asteras Tripolis, who had beaten Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-0 at home. The return leg was played in Cyprus due to security concerns but despite strong support in Larnaca, the team from the Peloponnese made hard work of the game.
Asteras made the perfect start, scoring the opener in the 24th minute but then had to hang on as its Israeli opposition went in search of the four goals it needed to qualify. Maccabi found three goals by the 76th minute but Asteras survived a few last-minute scares to qualify for the tournament’s group stage for the first time in its history.
The draw for the next round of the Europa League is due to take place on Friday.