PAOK Saloniki coach Abel Ferreira believes it is mainly due to the arbitration that his team failed to eliminate Ajax on Tuesday in the third preliminary round of the Champions League. The Greeks lost 3-2 in Amsterdam.
Ajax received no less than three penalties from English referee Craig Pawson, two of which were used by Dusan Tadic. PAOK wanted a free kick in the final seconds due to hands, but didn't get it.
"Ajax did not cause us many problems, but three penalties made the difference. If it had been necessary, the referee would have given a fourth penalty," said an angry Ferreira after the match in the Johan Cruijff ArenA.
"Just look at what happens before that third penalty kick and draw your conclusions. We took into account a strong Ajax, but there were factors that we had no influence on."
PAOK took the lead in Amsterdam thanks to former Feyenoorder Diego Biseswar, who also made 3-2 just in time. The goals from Ajax were made by Tadic (two) and Nicolás Tagliafico.
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"This is the start of a great season"
Despite the Greek anger towards the arbitration - after the final whistle, referee Pawson was stormed by the staff and players - Ferreira is also satisfied with the game in Amsterdam.
"We are talking about Ajax, which was among the best four in the Champions League last season. We made it difficult for them and the referee's decisions made this result even more nasty," said the coach.
"I want to congratulate Ajax and am proud of what my team has shown. We fought until the last minute. This hurts, but it is the start of a great season."
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Biseswar also critical of Pawson
Goal scorer Biseswar said at Ziggo Sport also little to understand the choices of the arbitration. The second penalty from PAOK was given after hands of the Dutchman.
"It was a fun game and it went both ways. We can be proud, but the referee's penalties and decisions were crucial," he said.
"In the last minute the right back of Ajax also made hands. You heard and saw it. It was a slightly different situation than mine, but hands are hands. Everyone is pissed off ."
Ajax is facing the Cypriot APOEL Nicosia in the play-offs of the Champions League. PAOK must try to qualify for the Europa League.