Ajax fought back from 2-1 down to take the lead on away goals in their tie against PAOK on Tuesday in the third round of the qualifying phase for the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League.
Last season's beaten semi-finalists had Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to thank for giving them the draw and the advantage ahead of the second leg in Amsterdam on Tuesday, August 13.
Elsewhere, Qarabag won 2-1 away to APOEL Nicosia, giving the Azeri club a great chance to return to the group stage for the second time in three seasons. Club Brugge also won, beating Dynamo Kiev 1-0, on a night when former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet made his debut for the Belgian side.
Meanwhile, Ferencvaros earned a creditable 1-1 draw away to Dinamo Zagreb, and Red Star Belgrade were held by FC Copenhagen.
Tuesday's 1st Leg Results
- APOEL Nicosia 1-2 Qarabag
- PAOK 2-2 Ajax
- Dinamo Zagreb 1-1 Ferencvaros
- Club Brugge 1-0 Dynamo Kiev
- Red Star Belgrade 1-1 FC Copenhagen
Hakim Ziyech gave Ajax the lead after just 10 minutes in Greece before former Arsenal striker Chuba Akpom equalised. Leo Matos then put hosts in front six minutes before the break.
An Ajax defence solid-as-a-rock last season, suddenly appeared vulnerable following the sale of Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus:
It didn't help the balance was far from right along the reshuffled Ajax backline:
Michael Bell @MichaelJBell09
Erik ten Hag has got his tactics wrong for this game. Veltman looks completely lost at right-back, Schuurs has an error in him and the midfield isn't taking control. Huntelaar is on for Dolberg but nothing happening up front. Tadic is so isolated. This could be a disaster!
The visitors were able to reassert themselves during the second half, as the Eredivisie side's classy possession game began taking hold. It was left to 35-year-old Huntelaar to convert from close range and spare Ajax any blushes:
Ajax can still conjure magic in the final third, but the sales of De Ligt and midfield linchpin Frenkie de Jong this summer have left last season's surprise package decidedly weaker.
It wasn't just Ajax turning on the style, with Dinamo Zagreb also producing some eye-catching stuff going forward. The Croatian club went in front after seven minutes when Spain U21 star Dani Olmos capped a slick move:
Olmo's goal should have been the cue for sustained dominance from the hosts. Instead, the Hungarian visitors showed admirable resolve in resisting several well-constructed attacks.
Ferencvaros' defiance was rewarded a minute before the hour mark when midfielder David Siger emphatically headed in an equaliser.
Qarabag were ruthlessly efficient in Cyprus, with Mahir Emreli putting the away side in front nine minutes after the restart after being played in by Jaime Romero. Magaye Gueye made it 2-0 15 minutes later, and Giorgos Merkis' stoppage-time finish was merely scant consolation for APOEL.
Hans Vanaken's 37th-minute conversion from the penalty spot proved enough for Brugge to earn a narrow aggregate lead over Dynamo. Mignolet impressed after completing his move from the Reds on Monday, per BBC Sport's Mandeep Sanghera, managing to frustrate a capable Kiev forward line.
The evening's fixtures came to a close with Red Star and Copenhagen playing out an entertaining draw. A goal from Milan Pakov gave Red Star the lead after he was picked out well by astute midfielder Mirko Ivanic.
Copenhagen battled back, though, and earned a priceless away goal from the penalty spot, with Jonas Wind making no mistake from 12 yards.
Wednesday will see Porto face Krasnodar in Russia, while Celtic are away to Romanian side Cluj.