Football Article

Benfica Bundled Out of UCL, Dynamo & Gent Progress

Benfica Bundled Out of UCL, Dynamo & Gent Progress Photo: TT
PAOK's players celebrate the 1-0 scored by Dimitris Pelkas (C) during the UEFA Champions League 3nd qualifying round match between PAOK FC and Benfica in Thessaloniki

Portuguese runners-up Benfica were the big casualties in UEFA Champions League qualifying on Tuesday night, beaten by Greek club PAOK.

The Greek Super League runners-up triumphed 2-1 over Benfica thanks to a Jan Vertonghen own goal and Andrija Zivkovic’s strike, before a late consolation goal from Rafa Silva.

Benfica boss Jorge Jesus said: “Effectiveness made the difference. If we analyze it coldly, we will conclude that Benfica was the better team, we had more opportunities but did not score. PAOK scored goals.

“We knew that, in the last third of the game, they had very dangerous diagonal passes and could enter the last line with these movements. We will grow game by game. We wanted to continue in this competition, it was one of the great goals of Benfica, the team and mine. We will have to think about another competition.

“We already have another game on Friday. This start to the season is very hectic, games every three days, but it is what it is and we have to prepare for it. We prepared well for this game. We were not happy with the game but that is part of it.”

PAOK have never reached the UEFA Champions League group stage while Benfica are regulars year-in year-out, although they weren’t favoured by being drawn as the away team in the one-off league path qualifier.

The Greek club will next play Russian runners-up Krasnodar in the play-off round, while Gent and Dynamo Kiev will also meet after victories on Tuesday.

Belgian runners-up Gent got past Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna 2-1, while Dynamo won 2-0 over Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, completing three wins from three matches for the clubs drawn at home in the compromised draw.

The third qualifying round will continue on Wednesday with the champions path, including match-ups between FC Midtjylland and Young Boys, Ferencvaros and Dinamo Zagreb, Qarabag and Molde, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Dinamo Brest and finally Omonia and Red Star Belgrade.

Slavia Prague, Red Bull Salzburg and Olympiakos are already through to the play-off round in the champions path.

The draw for the 2020-21 Champions League group stage will be held on October 1.

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer @bensomerford
Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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