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Weary cheer for Salpingidis and PAOK

Striker Dimitris Salpingidis said his PAOK FC side were delighted but "really exhausted" after his goal in chilly Zagreb put the Greek club through to the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

Weary cheer for Salpingidis and PAOK
Weary cheer for Salpingidis and PAOK ©UEFA.com

Goalscorer Dimitris Salpingidis said he and his PAOK FC team-mates were "really exhausted" after a 1-0 win at NK Dinamo Zagreb propelled them through to Friday's UEFA Europa League round of 32 draw.

The 29-year-old struck on the hour in the chilly Croatian capital to secure second place in Group D at the expense of their hosts, and said: "We are very satisfied with the way things went in Zagreb. We were expecting a tough match and this was the first time most of the players had played in conditions like this. It was very cold. We will celebrate this win but we are really exhausted."

Spanish midfielder Vitolo added: "We didn't play well in the first half; Dinamo were the better side. Dimitris secured us a very important victory." Substitute Lucio Filomeno continued: "It is too early to think about playing in Europe in the spring. We have to celebrate this win first. I will remember Zagreb for this important win. The stadium was full and the atmosphere was great."

The game was memorable for all the wrong reasons for Dinamo, who were looking to secure a place in the spring phase of a UEFA club competition for the first time since 1970. Igor Tomečak failed to take two good chances to put his side ahead, but said afterwards: "We are really unlucky. We were the better team, but in the second half we conceded a goal and now we are very disappointed."

Tonel added: "PAOK had only three chances in the game. We were attacking all the time, but couldn't get a goal. It was a good chance for Dinamo; I hope that fans will not be too disappointed. Now it is time for us to have a break; I hope next year will bring us better luck."

Coach Vahid Halilhodžić did his best to deflect criticism from his team. "I feel sorry for players," he said. "Do not blame them for anything. If anyone is to blame for this defeat, it's me. We are naïve; we lack experience in these games, and maybe even a little quality."