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PAOK comeback stuns Maccabi Haifa

PAOK FC 3-2 Maccabi Haifa FC
The hosts missed two penalties but still managed to come from behind to end the visitors' unbeaten away run and go clear in Group L.

PAOK's Miguel Vítor leaps to meet the ball against Maccabi Haifa
PAOK's Miguel Vítor leaps to meet the ball against Maccabi Haifa ©AFP/Getty Images

PAOK FC came from two goals behind, despite twice missing from the penalty spot, to beat Maccabi Haifa FC in Salonika and move top of UEFA Europa League Group L.

Goals from Dino Ndlovu and Eyal Golasa put the visitors two up after 21 minutes, but the hosts drew level before the break through Miguel Vítor and Sotiris Ninis – even though Miroslav Stoch had two penalties saved. However, Maccabi Haifa goalkeeper Bojan Šaranov was beaten for a third time when Dimitris Salpingidis volleyed in the winner on 67 minutes.

The Israeli Premier League side started well, much to the frustration of the home support, and took the lead after 13 minutes when Kostas Katsouranis relinquished possession just outside his own box, allowing Ndlovu to go one on one with Jacobo. The PAOK defenders were caught napping again eight minutes later when Golasa was allowed to turn on the edge of the box and curl a shot into the top corner.

However, the hosts restored parity thanks to two goals in four minutes and should have been ahead at the break. Vítor started the comeback by looping a header over Šaranov, but the keeper made amends by saving Stoch's spot kick soon after. He also tipped Ninis' rebound over the bar, only for the midfielder to head in from the subsequent corner, delivered by Stoch, before the midfielder's second penalty was again saved by Šaranov.

Desperate to make up for missed opportunities, Stoch came close with an ambitious long-range effort after the break, while Hen Ezra fired off-target from close range for the visitors. However, the momentum was with the home side and Salpingidis completed their comeback with a volley from Lino's cross that Šaranov could not keep out at his near post. The visitors were denied an equaliser in the dying minutes when Jacobo palmed clear Edin Cocalić's header, meaning they succumbed to a first away defeat in Europe this season.

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