PAOK snatch draw at Club Brugge
Stylianos Malezas struck with a 78th-minute header to snatch a share of the points for PAOK Salonika in their UEFA Europa League Group D opener against Club Brugge at Jan Breydel Stadium.
The result did little to improve the Belgian club's dismal start to the new domestic campaign having taken just seven points from their first six matches, and the pressure was on to perform. But despite nudging ahead in the 61st minute through a close-range strike from Cameroonian Dorge Kouemaha, the home side could not hold onto their lead and finished up disappointed.
Despite PAOK's creditable second place finish in the Greek Super League last season the Belgians were confident of victory and started well with Ivan Perisic hitting the bar with a long-range effort in the 10th minute. In a tight first period Wilfried Dalmat had a shot blocked by Salonika defender Victor Vitolo and three minutes before the break Kouemaha headed just over from a Nabil Dirar corner.
The Greek side showed more purpose at the start of the second half with Adelino Vieirinha firing over from a Pablo Garcia corner, and Thanassis Papazoglu seeing another effort from a set-piece blocked in the box. But Dirar's constant danger down the left flank finally paid off for the home side in the 61st minute when his cross from the flank found Kouemaha, who stroked the ball home from six yards.
Almost immediately home goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen was called into action to parry a powerful effort from Dimitris Salpinggidis then Stijnen also had to save a header from Papazoglu as PAOK pressed. Brugge almost went further ahead in the 71st minute when Dalmat fired a right-foot shot from the middle of the box which was tipped round the post by Salonika keeper Dario Kresic.
And six minutes later the visitors were level when Vieirinha sent in an inswinging corner from the left and Malezas rose to head past Stijnen from the left side of the penalty area. Giorgos Fotakis saw a shot blocked by Stijnen as the visitors sensed a winner and they came close again in injury time when Stijnen had to save a Lucio effort from eight yards out.