Szalai fires 10-man S04 into group stages
The striker struck twice - his second in the dying minutes - to break the hearts of the home side and kick start his side's poor start to the season
A late strike from Adam Szalai saw 10-man Schalke beat PAOK 3-2 on Tuesday night and record a 4-3 aggregate victory to book their place in the group stages of the Champions League.
The striker got the first goal of two goals on 43 minutes when he prodded home left-footed from inside the area, only for Stefanos Athanasiadis to equalise in the second period before Jermaine Jones was sent off for the visitors.
Julian Draxler then restored Schalke's lead, but PAOK drew level for a second thime through Konstantinos Katsouranis. However, Szalai had the final say to deny the home side their first appearance in the Champions League group stages.
Schalke brought in Atsuto Uchida and Felipe Santana at the back following their 2-1 Bundesliga defeat to Hannover at the weekend, while Jefferson Farfan, their goalscorer in the first leg, returned on the right.
PAOK coach Huub Stevens, going up against his former club, recalled Dimitris Salpingidis and Stefanos Athanasiadis to his forward line after the pair started on the bench in their side's 2-0 defeat to Panaitolikos on Saturday.
Schalke are yet to win a game in the Bundesliga game this season but started well and were the first to threaten. Just two minutes in, Jones headed down at goal from a corner only for Jacobo to save well with his feet.
However, the home side regrouped and applied pressure of their own, despite not having any fans to cheer them on at the Toumba Stadium, as their supporters served the first of a three-game ban following crowd trouble during a Europa League tie with Rapid Vienna last year.
The lively Miroslav Stoch was next to threaten for the home side, with the winger beating two Schalke defenders before shooting straight at Timo Hildebrand.
But just as it looked as though neither side would find a breakthrough before the half-time whistle, Szalai found the back of the net for the visitors.
Uchida poked a ball into the Hungarian's path and he nudged the ball past Jacobo with his left foot to give the German side the lead.
PAOK almost hit back five minutes after the break as Stoch turned well in the box, but nobody could get on the end of his teasing cross.
However, PAOK were level just three minutes later as Athanasiadis was played in by Stelios Kitsiou and slipped the ball past Hildebrand.
Schalke's cause was hindered by Jones's dismissal on 64 minutes after he received a second yellow card for a foul on Salpingidis, but Draxler's tidy finish three minutes later put Schalke ahead once again.
The 19-year-old was slipped in by Meyer, with the Germany international rounding Jacobo before slotting home to make it 2-1.
PAOK were not finished though, and equalised again through Katsouranis, as the centre-back got his head to a Stoch free-kick and looped his effort over Hildebrand and into the net.
But in the last minute, the home side's hearts were broken as Draxler cut in from the right and put it on a plate for Szalai to sidefoot home and conclude a thrilling encounter.