Panathinaikos lost 2-3 at home in Athens after leading 2-0, PAOK won 3-1 in Thessaloniki and AEK managed a scoreless draw in Bruges in the first leg of the playoffs for the Europe League group stage on Thursday night.
Panathinaikos was dominating against Athletic Bilbao in the first 60 minutes of the match, scoring two goals but the Athens team blacked out for six minutes. In the crucial minutes in the middle of the second half (68′-74′) the Spanish team managed to score three times turning the game around. The 3-2 away victory gives the Basques a huge advantage to qualify for the group stage, leaving Panathinaikos only with the satisfaction that they played very good football for one hour.
In Thessaloniki, PAOK had to prove that they are superior to inexperienced Ostersunds, as they were considered the clear favorite. Yet, the Swedish team took the lead in the score in the 21st minute. PAOK came back and managed to equilize in the first half and after scoring two more goals in the second half took the lead in the group stage qualifier.
Meanwhile in Bruges, AEK was better than Club Brugge KV in the first half, missing some good chances to score. However, the Athens team was unlucky to lose Marko Livaja in the 58th minute, after the striker received a second yellow card and was suspended. The Belgian team took advantage of that and started putting the pressure on AEK, but actually managed very little.
The PAOK victory and the AEK draw gave Greece 300 points in the UEFA rankings, thus securing 14th place and moving further up from Switzerland which is in the 15th place.