Schalke 04 earned their place in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League after a hard-fought 3-2 win away at FC PAOK, giving them a 4-3 triumph on aggregate
In the first half, chances were at a premium for both sides, although Jefferson Farfan (l.) looked dangerous for the guests, firing off one shot that the keeper did well to parry clear
Farfan, on the scoresheet for Jens Keller's men in the first half, looked the most likely player to make something happen for the away side, who needed to score in Greece
Adam Szalai (l.) had been quiet for much of the first half, but it was he that put Schalke in front before the break, finishing after a strong fun from Atsuto Uchida
In the second half, PAOK fought back with an equaliser from Stefanos Athanasiadis, but Julian Draxler (r.) put Schalke back in front again
There was still time for Jermaine Jones to be sent off and Marco Höger (r.) & Co. to concede again from Konstantinos Katsouranis...
...but Szalai made sure of the win, and progression to the group stage proper, with a calm finish after a stunning solo run from Draxler
A picture is worth a thousand words: Schalke captain Benedikt Höwedes' body language says it all after his side were held to a 1-1 draw against PAOK FC in their UEFA Champions League third round first leg qualifier
Things had started out so differently, with 17-year-old Max Meyer (l.) handed a debut Champions League starting berth on the left side of midfield
The hosts dominated proceedings in the first half but despite several promising attacks, they had to wait until the 32nd minute to break the deadlock, with Jefferson Farfan (m.) curling in a delightful left-footed effort
Adam Szalai (l., against Alexandros Tziolis) and Co. continued to gain momentum up until the break, but after it...
...Schalke were unable to build on their advantage against a PAOK side visibly gaining in confidence
In the 73rd minute, Miroslav Stoch hauled the northern Greek outfit right back into the tie, rifling the equaliser past home keeper Timo Hildebrand
Schalke's best chance to go back in front fell to Höwedes, but guest custodian Jacobo, out of shot here, rose to the occasion and punched the skipper's effort clear
1-1 it finished, meaning Joel Matip (l.), Atsusto Uchida and their colleagues will now have to find the net in Thessaloniki if they are to progress to the group phase