Schalke overcome PAOK 4-1 on aggregate in UEFA Europa League
Xinhua, February 23, 2017 Adjust font size:
Schalke advanced into the round of 16 after reaping a comfortable 4-1 win on aggregate over Greek side PAOK in the UEFA Europa League on Wednesday.
Schalke were held to a 1-1 tie on home soil, but last week's 3-0 first-leg victory at PAOK smoothed the way for the next round. It's the second time for the "Royal Blues" to book a place in the last 16.
Both sides staged a lively first half with one goal at each end of the pitch. However, things changed after halftime, with goal-scoring opportunities remaining a rare occurrence.
The visitors from Thessaloniki took the reins from the kick-off and worked out the first chance through Efthimios Koulouris, who came close with a free kick in the 17th minute.
Schalke needed 21 minutes to gain a foothold in the encounter, but they almost broke the deadlock against the run of the game as Naldo's header tested PAOK goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos from very close range.
The hosts gained momentum as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pulled just wide from a sharp angle before Alessandro Schoepf opened the scoring from ten meters off an assist from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting in the 23rd minute.
It remained a short-lived joy for Schalke as PAOK Thessaloniki restored parity out of the blue thanks to an own goal from Matija Nastasic, who deflected Koulouris' cross into the wrong goal two minutes later.
Both teams lacked in penetration after the restart. Schalke focused on fast breaks, while PAOK were unable to overcome the host's well-positioned defense.
Although the visitors fought to the end, it never looked like bouncing back from a 4-1 deficit on the road was in the cards.
"I am glad that we progressed into the next round. We would have liked to grab a victory but today I am okay with the 1-1 stalemate," Schalke head coach Markus Weinzierl said.
The draw for Europa League's round of 16 will be held in UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Endit