Ajax began their Champions League campaign on Tuesday with a 2-2 draw at PAOK Salonika.

Erik ten Hag decided to make one change from the side that drew with Vitesse at the weekend with Ravzan Marin replaced in the midfielder by Noussair Mazraoui. That meant Kasper Dolberg remained in attack despite a poor showing in Arnhem.

After only ten minutes, Ajax took the lead. Hakim Ziyech’s free-kick was nodded into his own net by PAOK defender Dimitris Giannoulis. Minutes later it was almost 2-0 but keeper Alexandros Paschalakis made a reflex save to deny Ziyech again.

Ajax were threatening a second but then in the 32nd minute, PAOK equalised. Dutchman Diego Biseswar was involved in a team move that ended with Chuba Akpom firing a cross past Andre Onana.

From that point the Ajax defence fell apart and PAOK attacked at will. In the 39th minute, a free-kick was met by Léo Matos who headed the ball into the net to make it 2-1.

It could have been 3-1 before the break but Dimitris Pelkas fired a great chance wide after sloppy play by Perr Schuurs. Ajax were forced into a change before the break with Dolberg going off with an injury to be replaced by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Early in the second half, Ajax got a great opportunity to equalise when a smart dummy by Donny van de Beek enabled the ball to get to a free Ziyech in the box. However, the Moroccan’s strike was well off target.

Ajax didn’t have to wait long for the equaliser, though, as Fernando Valera’s attempted clearance in the 57th minute hit Huntelaar and the ball bounced into the net.

From that point Ajax remained in total control but a winning goal did not come. Huntelaar got the best chance after an excellent cross by Nicolas Tagliafico but the striker was denied at close range by Paschalakis.

Ajax take a 2-2 draw back to Amsterdam for the second leg next week. If they can complete the job then it is likely that Qarabag awaits. They defeated APOEL Nicosia 2-0 in Cyprus.




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