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PAOK FC will take the slenderest advantage into next week's return thanks to Miroslav Stoch's away goal in a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their play-off tie at FC Schalke 04.
The hosts looked to have put their stuttering Bundesliga start behind them when Jefferson Farfán opened the scoring, but they were punished for some complacent defending as Stoch struck what could prove to be a crucial equaliser for the visitors.
Having led Schalke to glory in the UEFA Cup in 1997, PAOK coach Huub Stevens was afforded a warm reception prior to kick-off. However, his side soon made it clear they were out to make the most of their second chance in the competition after replacing FC Metalist Kharkiv last Wednesday.
The Greek side began with plenty of energy, but it was the Royal Blues who eventually wrested control of possession. After a tentative opening half-hour Farfán ended the impasse, slotting in via a post after Ádám Szalai had showed strength and awareness in the box. The goal sparked a flurry of opportunities, with Szalai almost getting on the end of Joel Matip's knock-down and Christian Fuchs clearing Liam Lawrence's finish off the line at the other end.
Julian Draxler and Szalai attempted to add to Schalke's lead either side of the interval, but as the game drifted back into a lull it was Stoch who seized the initiative, charging in from the left before releasing a fine curling finish past Timo Hildebrand.
Benedikt Höwedes had a wonderful opportunity to restore Schalke's lead when he popped up clean through with ten minutes remaining, but Jacobo made the save to ensure it is PAOK who hold the chips ahead of next week's second leg.
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