Europa League Review – Paks Seal Tie With A Kiss

Written by Tomasz Mortimer

Aktobe 0-0 KTE (Agg: 1-1 – Aktobe progress on away goals), Tromso 0-3 Paks (Agg: 1-4) & Aalesund 3-1 Ferencváros (Agg: 4-3 – aet)

It was a mixed bag for Hungarians in Europe tonight as all but one of the sides from Hungary crash out in the Second Qualifying Round.

After Videoton’s exit on Wednesday, it was left for KTE, Paks and Ferencváros to take over the reins and progress to the next round of qualifying.

It was going to be a struggle for each of the sides who had all left themselves with a lot to do ahead of the second leg, and it was KTE who got the action underway as they travelled to Kazakhstan, knowing they had to at least score one goal to have a chance of progressing to the next round.

Unfortunately for Kecskemét, that goal didn’t come throughout the 90 minutes, and a 0-0 draw was enough to send them out of Europe at the first hurdle on away goals (aggregate: 1-1). After waiting 100 years for the chance to play in Europe, it was a cruel way to go out for Sivić and his boys.

The next team up were lowly Paks. After achieving a remarkable 2nd place finish last season, most expected Paks to be embarrassed in Europe this season, but after earning a credible 1-1 draw at home to Tromso, they still had a chance, a slim one, but a chance of making the next round.

Paks went into the game as massive underdogs, and some bookmakers had Paks as much as 8/1 to win on the night. The first half flew by with chances coming and going for both teams, however the second half was a completely different story. After an hour gone, a defensive mix up allowed Tamas Kiss through on goal who duly did the honours to send the Paks fans into pandemonium. 1-0 on the night, 2-1 on aggregate. Then just 2 minutes later it was 2-0. Daniel Bode again capitalising on an error to send Paks into dreamland and surely into the 3rd qualifying round. And how apt was it that Tamas Kiss was to seal the tie 15 minutes later to make it 3-0. Sealed with a Kiss.

Paks have been drawn against Hearts of Midlothian as their next opponents, and will play host to the Scottish outfit in Szekesfehervar next Thursday.

Finally, Ferencváros were the last Hungarian team in action against Aaelsund, and after a 2-1 win last week in Budapest, they had a slight advantage going into the second leg. And it was Fradi who were to grab the first goal against the run of play – albeit in a controversial manner when Lorant Olah looked a good yard offside before finishing from close range.

3-1 up, it seemed like Fradi were cruising, and it wasn’t till the 70th minute until AaFK responded after Barrantes fired home from the penalty spot. Then with just 2 minutes of normal time remaining, Lars Fuhre pounced on a defensive mistake to make it to 2-1 on the night, and 3-3 on aggregate. Heartbreak for Fradi who looked dead on their feet, and with an extra half an hour of extra-time to come, there was only going to be one winner.

And after failing to break the Fradi door down for the whole of extra-time it was to be Estonian international Sander Post who was to be the hero for AaFK, arriving in the 119th minute, unmarked at the back post to make it 3-1 on aggregate and send Fradi crashing at the second stage.

Gutting for Ferencváros and that now leaves the nation’s hopes with just Paks. How they will do against Hearts is anyone’s guess. They’ve surprised absolutely everyone in this past year not just with their Europa League run, but also their 2nd place finish last season and if the last 12 months are anything to go by, Hearts could be in for a real shock.

Paks will play Hearts on July 28th in Székesfehérvár before the return leg in Edinburgh on the 4th August.

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