Last season’s semi-finalists Ajax qualified for the play-off round of the Champions League with a 3-2 win over PAOK in Amsterdam on Tuesday.
After the 2-2 in Thessaloniki last week Ajax was favorite to progress, but the home-team started very sloppy in an entertaining match in the Johan Cruijff Arena.
Diego Biseswar put the visitors ahead in the 23rd minute. The 31-year-old Dutchman, who played for Feyenoord in the Netherlands, found the corner of the goal after Ajax defender Joel Veltman headed the ball in front of his feet.
After David Neres was brought down in the penalty area of PAOK, Ajax had the chance to equalize in the 32nd minute. However, PAOK goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis was able to stop the penalty by Dusan Tadic.
Two minutes before half-time Ajax got another chance from the penalty spot after a hand ball by Biseswar. This time Tadic chipped the ball through the middle and beat Paschalakis for the equalizer.
With 1-1 on the scoreboard Ajax would go through, but one goal would mean elimination and PAOK was dangerous in the first part of the second half. The team from Greece had opportunities from the counter attack. A cross by Biseswar failed to reach teammate Dimitrios Pelkas and another counter with five against two did not work out for the Greeks.
On a corner by Hakim Ziyech, Nicolas Tagliafico liberated the home-team with a header in the 79th minute. Five minutes from time Ajax received their third penalty of the evening by referee Craig Pawson after Leo Matos pushed Leo Matos to the ground. Tadic tried it for the third time and added his second goal. Biseswar added his second in injury-time to make it 3-2.
In the play-off round, Ajax will meet APOEL Nicosia on August 20 in Cyprus and on August 28 in Amsterdam. The winner joins the group phase of the Champions League.