Rémy Cabella’s tap-in earned Krasnodar an advantage in their UEFA Champions League play-off opener against PAOK.
Krasnodar vs PAOK: as it happened, reaction
Match in brief
Matvei Safonov saved a Dimitris Pelkas penalty early on, but the striker atoned for his error, flicking Andrija Živković’s ball past Safonov to give PAOK the lead. However, a foul in the box at the other end brought another spot kick before the interval; Viktor Claesson also sent his effort straight down the middle, but his penalty found the net.
PAOK looked bright at the start of the second half, Omar El Kaddouri rattling the post with a shot on 68 minutes, but they fell behind not long after. Marcus Berg flicked over goalkeeper Živko Živković as Krasnodar made a rapid break into the area, and Cabella crashed the ball into the unguarded net.
Artur Petrosyan, Krasnodar reporter
Shaky at the back, Krasnodar gave the visitors far too much room and looked disorganised after losing possession. With the Bulls not showing much up front, PAOK appeared the better side before half-time and controlled the game after it too. The final score is all that matters, but Krasnodar will need to do some homework if they want to hold on to this advantage.
Vassiliki Papantonopoulou, PAOK reporter
PAOK could have got much more out of this encounter. They wasted a penalty, struck the post and ended up losing despite taking the lead in Russia. They still have 90 minutes to turn the tie around in Salonika next week, and they showed today that they have what it takes to do that. For much of this match, they were in command, and they successfully contained Krasnodar’s impressive forward line.
Murad Musaev, Krasnodar coach: “We did well to equalise quickly before half-time. In the second half, the game was much less open but we managed to find the winner. Whichever way you look at it, it is still 50-50. Everything will be decided in Greece.”
Matvei Safonov, Krasnodar goalkeeper: “We want to win both games, then we won’t need to worry about the aggregate score. I’m happy we won but we need to be ready for the return leg. We made some mistakes tonight, but our hard work throughout the game helped us get the win. Our lads did great.”
Dimitris Pelkas, PAOK forward: “We didn’t deserve to lose. These two-legged ties have to be played with a clear head in order to avoid errors. We will work hard and do everything we can to turn the tie around. We are desperate to do something that PAOK have never managed before and qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage.”
Abel Ferreira, PAOK coach: “We had a good game, with a specific tactical approach that paid off most of the time against a high-quality attacking side. We created chances but couldn’t convert them all. We are confident that we will play better in the second leg and qualify. It was an even game between two sides that both enjoy creating chances. The team who converted most of theirs won.”
- Krasnodar have won their last three European home matches.
- A third goal in two games for Claesson; two in two for Cabella. Both scored in Friday’s 7-2 league win against Khimki.
- PAOK have not kept a clean sheet in 15 European matches since a 0-0 draw against Spartak Moskva in 2018.
- The Greek side have already eliminated Beşiktaş and Benfica this season with home wins in Salonika.
Krasnodar: Safonov; Ramírez, Sorokin, Kaio, Petrov; Vilhena, Olsson, Cabella (Utkin 81); Claesson, Berg, Wanderson (Suleymanov 86)
PAOK: Živko Živković, Michailidis, Varela, Ingason, Crespo; Giannoulis, Schwab, El Kaddouri, Andrija Živković; Pelkas (Biseswar 79), Tziolis (Świderski 84)
The second leg takes place in Salonika on Wednesday 30 September. The winner enters the draw for the UEFA Champions League group stage, staged in Nyon on 1 October.