Ali Coote delivers on double as Bohs stun PAOK

On and on Bohemians march in the Europa Conference League, stunning Greek heavyweights PAOK at a throbbing Aviva Stadium
Ali Coote delivers on double as Bohs stun PAOK

Bohemians' Ali Coote celebrates scoring his second goal. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Bohemians 2 PAOK 1

On and on Bohemians march in the Europa Conference League, stunning Greek heavyweights PAOK at a throbbing Aviva Stadium by taking a first-leg lead to Thessaloniki next week.

Keith Long’s side may be ranked 300 places behind PAOK in Uefa’s standings but a goal by Ali Coote in each half puts them in command to reach the play-off, even if Nelson Oliveira’s late reply makes the return a bit trickier than it should be.

Having been spared last weekend’s trip to Finn Harps by the FAI, the rest helped Long stick with the same starting team that had so thoroughly dismantled Dudelange 3-0 at the Aviva last Thursday.

There was a stable look to his side, yet they were shredded within two minutes.

When Portuguese international Oliveira posed an early test for James Talbot, the goalkeeper could only spill the 20-yard shot but, thankfully, Andrija Zivkovic’s close-range follow-up blazed over.

Zivkovic, one of the 10 internationals in the visitors’ starting side, will be hoping for a better experience of the Dublin 4 venue when returning with Serbia for next month’s World Cup qualifier.

He was hauled off with 20 minutes left; PAOK running out of ideas and time.

This first leg may well have had a different complexion had Zivkovic converted that sitter and Oliveira was equally profligate while the game remained scoreless. He took a heavy first touch when sent clear on 20 minutes with just Talbot to beat.

By that stage, Bohs were looking at home on the national stadium stage before 8,000 fans, maximising the larger pitch by keeping wingers Coote and Liam Burt wide and threatening.

That generated free space for Ross Tierney to patrol inside and twice inside the first half he broke the lines to get inside the penalty area.

For the second chance, he was probably better off shooting on sight rather than trying to tee up Georgie Kelly, who had the ball taken off his toe by captain Vieirinha.

The ability of Bohs to hold their own in those exchanges was encouraging and it got better with the breakthrough on 23 minutes.

Kelly, the goalscoring hero of the two previous wins at the venue, turned provider this time by brushing off his marker Giannis Michailidis on the right.

With the Greeks appealing for a foul, the striker dashed to the endline before squaring for Coote to slide in with a first-time finish.

In a mark of Bohs' ambition, instead of defending their lead, the Gypsies continued to press.

Burt stung his drive from 25 yards marginally over and though Rob Cornwall had to use his physique to deny Shinji Kagawa a tap-in approaching the break, Bohs weren’t flattered when grabbing a second seven minutes after the restart.

Once again, Coote did the damage but Tierney’s involvement, as a decoy from a corner, created the opening.

Left unmarked 30 yards out, the former Waterford winger rifled his shot through a crowded goalmouth and past a feeble attempt to save by goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis.

Kagawa had got himself in a tangle again six yards out from a chance just before that second and looked a bit sheepish when called ashore as part of a treble substitution on the hour.

With two of Greece’s European participants already eliminated from Europe, a third exit would constitute a crisis.

Bohs restricted their prestigious opponents to scarce openings up until Stefan Schwab’s arrowed cross was telegraphed for Nelson Oliveira to head home with 13 minutes left.

Talbot stood tall to turn a fierce shot from substitute Karol Swiderski around the post as Bohs held on to record their fourth successive win in the competition.

BOHEMIANS: J Talbot; A Lyons, R Cornwall (J Finnerty 83), C Kelly A Breslin; K Buckley, D Devoy (C Levingston 76); A Coote (K Ward 87), R Tierney, L Burt (T Wilson 88); G Kelly.

PAOK: A Paschalakis; R Soares, F Varela, G Michailidis, Vieirinha; A Esiti (J Kurtic 63), S Schwab; A Zivkovic (T Murg 70), S Kagawa (D Biseswar 63), O El Kaddouri (C Tzolis 63); Nelson Oliveira (K Swiderski 82).

Referee: Antti Munukka (FIN).

More in this section

IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox