Thursday was a night of glory for Olympiakos and one of shame for PAOK in the Europa League, with the Reds beating AC Milan 3-1 in Piraeus to advance to the knock-out stages of the competition.
The Reds will now enter Monday’s draw for the home-and-away Round of 32, to take place in February. They are the only Greek team left in Europe after AEK also crashed out of the Champions League.
Olympiakos needed a 2-0 win to go through on a better head-to-head record, having lost 3-1 in Italy, but eventually matched the result of the game in Milan and went through on its superior overall goal difference,
After an hour’s play with plenty of chances but no goals, Pape Abou Cisse opened the score with a header on the 60th minute.
The second goal Olympiakos needed came 10 minutes later through a Cristian Zapata own goal, only for Milan’s Colombian player to redeem himself with a goal at the right end just two minutes later.
However Olympiakos, urged on by a capacity crowd at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, regained the two-goal margin it required as captain Costas Fortounis converted a penalty that Vassilis Torosidis had earned from Ignazio Abate.
The Reds held on for the remainder of the game to earn the second spot in the group with 10 points, behind Real Betis, pipping the Italians into third.
PAOK, on the other hand, slumped to a 3-1 home loss to BATE for its third defeat in as many games at Toumba in the group stage.
The Greek league leader needed a win by any score, as well as a Chelsea victory over Vidi in Budapest, but neither part of the equation came true. Vidi and Chelsea drew 2-2 while PAOK conceded three goals in the first half and was unable to respond after the interval, especially in the last half-hour when it had a man’s advantage.
Maksim Skavysh opened the score for the Belarusian team after 18 minutes, and Nikolai Signevich produced a brace in the last five minutes of the first half, his first coming from the penalty spot.
PAOK’s players were jeered on their way to the locker rooms at half-time, and reduced their arrears on the 59th through Aleksandar Prijovic. However they could produce no more goals after that, even when Signevich left BATE with 10 men on the 61st minute.
Therefore the Thessaloniki team has ended up at the bottom of its group with three points from six games.