Midfielder SIEM DE JONG stares at Uruguay World Cup striker and Ajax Amsterdam skipper LUIS SUAREZ (16) following the former Dutch U-21 international midfielder’s goal in the second half opposite PAOK Thessaloniki at the Toumba Stadium in Greece. Suarez had provided the square ball for De Jong to essentially tap home. (AP photo)
UEFA Champions League
third round qualifying, second leg
3 – PAOK Thessaloniki (GRE) —– Vieirinha 16′, Salpigidis 57′, Ivic 90+1′
3 – Ajax Amsterdam (HOL) —— Suarez 48′, de Jong 50′, Lindgren 55′
AJAX AMSTERDAM breathe a collective sigh of relief after a back and forth affair brought a 3-3 draw with PAOK THESSALONIKI in the UEFA Champions League third round qualifying, second leg match in Greece.
The home side were unlucky at the thirteen and a half minute mark of the match. Greek international striker DIMITRIS SALPIGIDIS, who scored the first-ever goal at a World Cup final tournament for his country in South Africa earlier this summer, intercepted an ill-advised back pass and shot through the legs of Ajax Amsterdam goalkeeper MAARTEN STEKELENBURG. The Dutch World Cup shot-stopper, however, was able to recover and reach the ball before it had completely crossed the goal line to record a dramatic save.
Portugal U-21 international VIEIRINHA did manage to put PAOK Thessaloniki on the board with a glancing header just three minutes later.
Ajax Amsterdam answered, however, with three goals within ten minutes following the restart. Uruguay World Cup striker LUIS SUAREZ led the charge by first chesting a ball down in the box to send a laser inside the post and then squaring a ball for 21-year-old midfielder SIEM DE JONG to calmly finish. And, more good fortune for Ajax ensued.
The long-range free kick of Sweden international midfielder RASMUS LINDGREN took a late bounce and, somehow, managed to bamboozle Croatian goalkeeper DARIO KRESIC in between the PAOK sticks.
PAOK Thessaloniki were not prepared to go without a fight, though. Salpigidis, with his own luck evening out a bit, scored just a couple of minutes after Ajax Amsterdam had gone ahead 3-1. But, for the PAOK team, perhaps it was not meant to be.
PAOK Thessaloniki’s hero from the first leg, Serbia international midfielder VLADIMIR IVIC, would see his penalty saved by Stekelenburg thirteen minutes from time.
Although Ivic did manage to put the ball in the net and level the score on the evening in injury time, it was not enough to stop Ajax Amsterdam from advancing on away goals in the Champions League.
PAOK THESSALONIKI : Kresic ; Sznaucner (Filomeno 84′), Contreras, Cirillo, Boussaidi ; Pablo Garcia, Vitolo (Muslimovic 64′), Sorlin, Ilic ; Salpigidis, Vieirinha
AJAX AMSTERDAM : Stekelenburg ; van der Wiel, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Anita ; Emanuelson, de Jong, de Zeeuw, Lindgren ; Suarez (Oleguer 90+3′), Sulejmani (Eriksen 78′)
MATCH HIGHLIGHTS (Ajax Amsterdam are attired in all dark blue with yellow trim)