A penalty from Brandão midway through the second half earned FC Shakhtar Donetsk a battling win against PAOK FC to get their UEFA Cup Group G campaign off to a positive start, although in truth the margin of victory could have been much greater.
A lively presence in a dominant Ukrainian outfit, the Brazilian midfield player coolly slotted in his spot-kick on 68 minutes after compatriot Elano Blumer had been upended by Dionysios Chasiotis. The Greek visitors had been firmly on the back foot until then, and the goal forced them to switch to attack, but although Dimitrios Salpingidis and Marcin Mieciel both had efforts on target, neither troubled goalkeeper Dmytro Shutkov.
Shutkov's PAOK counterpart Daniel Fernandes had a much busier evening, and moments after Ciprian Marica saw his sixth-minute header superbly blocked by Fatih Akyel, was tested with a blistering shot from Darijo Srna. Marica was just off target with an overhead kick midway through the first half and the chance led to a rare breakaway from the visitors, although Mieciel's shot failed to trouble Shutkov.
It proved a fleeting foray for the Alpha Ethniki outfit, who were soon back on the defensive. Srna and Brazilian playmaker Matuzalem both fired wide as the home side sought the goal their pressure promised as PAOK were limited to speculative efforts from distance.
Usually an effervescent presence in the Shakhtar midfield, Elano had a quiet first half, but came to life after the interval. After having a shot blocked by Nigerian defender Ifeanyi Udeze, he went closer with a 25-metre volley that forced a smart save from Fernandes. The goalkeeper made two further saves from Brandão, but the pressure finally told and the Brazilian made it third time lucky - this time from the penalty spot - after Elano had been brought down.
PAOK rang the changes late on but it proved too little, too late as the Ukrainian side cruised to an opening win. However, Mircea Lucescu's side may be punished for such profligacy when they face VfB Stuttgart on 3 November. PAOK face the same opponents on Matchday 3 after sitting out the next round of games.
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