Europa Conference League Play-Offs: Rijeka and PAOK Finish 1:1 in Match 1

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Motionteam / PIXSELL
Motionteam / PIXSELL

A hard-fought battle saw Rijeka draw against PAOK (1:1) in Thessaloniki in the first match of the Conference League play-offs.

Lepinjica scored for the Rijeka lead in the 33rd minute with a precise and powerful shot from more than 20 meters. PAOK, however, equalized thanks to a Galešić own goal in the fourth minute of added time, bringing the match to an even score. 

Rijeka was without several key players in this match, including Murić, Labrović, Drmić, Smolčić, and Selahi, who were injured. Stanić did not have the right to play either, because he has already played for Široki Brijeg in Europe this season. Stanić, however, can play for Rijeka in this season’s Conference League only if they advance to the group stage of the competition. 

The exciting match saw a shocking ending. After PAOK created many opportunities, they only scored in the final minutes from a penalty (90+4), disappointing Rijeka who was on the verge of a great victory. Galešić sent the ball into his own net after a corner, which was also the last chance for the Greek club to equalize.

The return match at Rujevica Stadium in Rijeka will be played in seven days (August 26, when the Croatian club will look for a chance to play in Europe this autumn. If Rijeka fails to beat PAOK in front of their fans, they will thus fail to qualify for the group stage of the Conference League this season. 

Recall, the only other Croatian club with a chance to play in a European competition this autumn is Dinamo, who lost 3:0 to Sheriff on Tuesday. 

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