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Metalist pass PAOK test to reach play-offs

FC Metalist Kharkiv 1-1 PAOK FC (agg: 3-1)
Leading by two goals from the first leg in Salonika, the hosts held Huub Stevens' side to earn a place in Friday's play-off draw.

Sebastián Blanco strikes for Metalist against PAOK
Sebastián Blanco strikes for Metalist against PAOK ©Olexandr Osypov

FC Metalist Kharkiv edged closer to a maiden appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage, a 1-1 draw in Ukraine sealing a 3-1 aggregate victory against PAOK FC in the third qualifying round.

Ahead in the tie thanks to two Marko Dević strikes in the first leg, the hosts were content to soak up pressure for long periods. Any lingering nerves were settled by Sebastián Blanco's 72nd-minute strike, which meant Tomáš Necid's late reply was little more than a consolation for PAOK.

Metalist started on the front foot and might have taken the lead within five minutes, captain José Ernesto Sosa shooting over when well placed. The Metalist No11 then curled in a free-kick from which Souza Diego, a recent signing from Brazilian side Cruzeiro EC, nodded just wide of the target.

PAOK grew in confidence as the match wore on but were made to pay for their lack of cutting edge when Metalist extended their aggregate advantage in the second half. The diminutive Blanco received a pass from Marlos and slotted coolly past Jacobo from 20 metres.

The Greek side did eventually find the net, Necid scoring with his first touch after climbing off the bench, but it was a case of too little, too late.