Former European champions Ajax Amsetrdam were held to a 2-2 draw at PAOK in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie on Tuesday.
Last season’s semi-finalists Ajax, who have won Europe’s premier club competition four times, made a perfect start in the cauldron of PAOK’s Tumba stadium.
Hakim Ziyech curled in a swerving free kick after 10 minutes.
Roared on by a fervent home crowd, PAOK turned the tide before half-time.
Striker Chuba Akpom capped a flowing move with a fine finish from 10 metres and defender Leo Matos headed home a Diego Biseswar free-kick.
Ajax, who suffered a last-gasp defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in last season’s semi-finals, piled on the pressure after the break.
Ziyech missed a glaring chance before substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar equalised with a bizarre goal on the hour.
Fernando Varela’s poor clearance from Donny van de Beek’s cross rebounded off the 35-year old striker’s feet into the back of the net from close range.
The visitors then dominated until the final whistle.
In other matches also played on Tuesday, Red Star Belgrade could only manage a 1-1 home draw against FC Copenhagen.
Azeri champions Qarabag took a big step towards the playoff round with a 2-1 win at Cypriot side APOEL.
But Dinamo Zagreb left their progress hanging in the balance after the Croats played out a 1-1 home draw against Hungary’s Ferencvaros.
A Hans Vaneken penalty kick late in the first half gave Bruges a 1-0 home win against Dynamo Kiev.
Red Star, the 1991 champions, conceded a late equaliser after their striker Milan Pavkov reaffirmed his reputation for scoring in big games just before the break.
But he had to be forced off the pitch at half-time by a recurring hamstring injury.
Pavkov, who netted twice in last season’s memorable 2-0 home win over eventual UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool in the group stage, fired Red Star ahead in the 44th minute.
That was when he hooked a loose ball over goalkeeper Sten Michael Grytebust.
Pavkov made way for Richmond Boakye and the hosts were punished in the closing stages for the Ghanaian’s forward’s second-half profligacy.
Boakye missed a pair of gilt-edged chances to double Red Star’s lead before midfielder Dusan Jovancic fouled Copenhagen substitute Mas Jaume in the penalty area.
Jonas Wind coolly converted the 84th minute penalty kick.
Dinamo’s Spanish midfielder Dani Olmo fired them ahead with a superb goal in the seventh minute as he took a clever back-heel by Mislav Orsic in his stride.
He then nutmegged a defender and hit the far corner of the net with a crisp shot.
But Ferencvaros levelled against the run of play on the hour when David Siger beat Dominik Livakovic with a looping header after the goalkeeper had parried a shot from 10 metres.
Goals from Mair Emreli and Magaye Gueye gave Qarabag a 2-0 lead at APOEL before Giorgos Merkis pulled one back for the home sides in the 90th minute.
In Wednesday’s stand-out fixtures, 1967 European Cup winners Celtic visit Romania’s CFR Cluj while twice former champions FC Porto are away to Russians Krasnodar.(Reuters/NAN)
FIFA Emerges Best Global Sports Federation on Governance Standards
By Eze Okechukwu, Abuja
FIFA has been rated among the international sporting federations with the best standards of governance following a review conducted by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.
FIFA was among seven out of 33 international federations who achieved a score of 175 points or more out of 200 and were placed in the top group, A1, which the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations described as “an exclusive group”.
The federations were divided into five groups according to their score, with the target score, regarded as satisfactory, set at 130 for full members of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.
It was the fourth such review conducted by by the association, with FIFA also placed among the leading international federations and the previous was in the year 2020.
The aim of the project, led by ASOIF’s Governance Task Force, is to promote and ensure a culture of good governance within the international federations and help drive continuous progress.
The review looked at five aspects of governance – transparency, integrity, democracy, development and control mechanisms – and these were further divided into ten sub-sections, with a score of zero to four awarded for each.
The review began with a self assessment in January and February this year where international federations were asked to complete a questionnaire and determine a score for each question, providing explanatory evidence for their decision. These assessments were then independently moderated by an external sports governance consultancy.
The assessment took place in the context of the ongoing global pandemic, which has severely affected sport, but was conducted before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has caused more uncertainty in the sporting world.
Eight Medical Staff Face Trial for Maradona’s Death
Eight medical personnel will stand trial for alleged criminal negligence in the death of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, according to a court ruling made public yesterday.
No date has been set for the trial of the eight over Maradona’s death in 2020, which prosecutors say was due to “omissions” by his caregivers who abandoned him “to his fate” during home hospitalisation.
Maradona died aged 60 in 2020 while recovering from brain surgery for a blood clot, and after decades of battles with cocaine and alcohol addictions.
Neurosurgeon and family doctor Leopoldo Luque, psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, psychologist Carlos Diaz, medical coordinator Nancy Forlini and four others including nurses were placed under investigation.
Prosecutors have asked that they be tried for negligent homicide.
They claim mismanagement by the team had placed the football legend in a “situation of helplessness”.
The accused risk sentences ranging from eight to 25 years in prison.
According to the prosecutors, the defendants “were the protagonists of an unprecedented, totally deficient and reckless hospitalisation at home”, allegedly responsible for a “series of improvisations, management failures and shortcomings”.
Maradona is widely considered one of the greatest footballers in history.
FG Plans C’Wealth Games Closed Camping for Athletics, Boxing, Eight Others
By Idris Umar, Abuja
The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, has concluded arrangements for the closed camping of athletes in the 10 sports federations that will feature at the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, England from July 28 to August 8, 2022.
The sporting federations are Athletics, Boxing, Judo, Para Athletics, Para Powerlifting, Para Table Tennis, Table Tennis, Weightlifting and Wrestling.
In a statement by the Director Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Mohammed Manga, and made available to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, said the closed camping will begin from July 9, 2022 till the commencement of the Games.
The statement added that athletes will be camped in Abuja, Lagos and Yenagoa.
“Thus, effective July 9, 2022, the Federations closed and open camps will dovetail into the Ministry’s preparations,” the statement read.
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