SCOTT PETERSON - Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Schalke and Jermaine Jones progressed, but made it interesting against PAOK overcoming the Greeks, and Jones' two yellows, thanks to two goals by Adam Szalai.
Desperate to begin the match brightly and create a missing air of confidence after disappointing results in all competitions to start the season, Schalke relentlessly attacked the PAOK goal in the early going.
Hungarian striker Szalai failed to find the target on a wide-open header in the second minute, whereas Jones did much better with his 60 seconds later only to meet his match in the person of PAOK keeper Jacobo and his right foot.
Schalke held the ball, dictated the flow of the game and incrementally pushed more numbers forward to outnumber PAOK. With all but one of ten field players behind the ball when not in possession, PAOK was content to try its luck on the counter attack.
In the 19th minute PAOK would have had Schalke right where it wanted, if not for Jones, who brought a promising attack to an end by dragging down Dimitri Salpingidis. The tactical foul was good for a caution.
Despite the possession, Schalke was unable to create any real threat to the PAOK goal, until Jones played a cutting pass to Uchida over the top of the defense. The Japanese defender then cut the ball back for Szalai, who tapped home for the opener in the 43rd minute.
After the break, PAOK was better. An equalizer seemed certain in the 52nd minute, but Salpingidis needed an inch more on his frame to connect. It was no matter, however, as Klaus converted a pass from teammate Lucas to knot things up just 60 seconds later.
Exacerbating matters was Jones, who lost the ball to Salpingidis and then brought him down from behind for his second yellow and an early shower.
Schalke, however, were unfazed and substitute Max Meyer combined with Julian Draxler to put the guests back in the lead three minutes after Jones' expulsion.
Ten minutes from time, the Greeks grabbed another equalizer, through Kosta Katsouranis, and came within inches of the lead, but the lively Miroslav Stoch pulled his effort in the 82nd minute just wide.
It was not until the 90th minute that Schalke could finally breathe a sigh of relief as Szalai bagged his second point-blank tap-in to put the tie away.
The group draw will take place on September 17th. Schalke and Jones will hope to parlay their international triumph into domestic success as they host Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.