Last season’s Champion’s League semifinalist Ajax reached the playoffs on Tuesday after seeing off PAOK Thessaloniki in an intense encounter and dodges an early exit from the championship.

On the night when Porto was dumped out of the Champions League by Russian side Krasnodar, Ajax faced elimination when its former youth player Diego Biseswar scored for PAOK in the 23rd minute to put the Greek team 3-2 ahead on aggregate.

Ajax captain Dusan Tadic saw one penalty saved and scored a second in each half to draw level. Nicolas Tagliafico’s late header finally was enough to gibe Erik ten Hag’s side a chance to make the group stage and relive the dream of last season.

PAOK’s rough, physical style handed Ajax a third penalty which was converted by Tadic. While Biseswar scored again in stoppage time for PAOK, posing danger to Ajax, they held on to win.

“It was a tough evening. I am glad we got there in the end, but don’t ask me how. It is a very tough team to play against,” Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek said.