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PAOK peg back Club Brugge

Club Brugge KV 1-1 PAOK FC
The Belgian side looked comfortable as Dorge Kouemaha put them in front but Stylianos Malezas capped a late revival by visiting PAOK.

Stelios Malezas celebrates after equalising against Club Brugge
Stelios Malezas celebrates after equalising against Club Brugge ©Getty Images

Club Brugge KV and PAOK FC drew 1-1 in the Group D curtain-raiser at the Jan Breydelstadion.

The UEFA Europa League points look destined to stay in Bruges after Dorge Kouemaha's 61st-minute opener. That though was discounting the intervention of Stylianos Malezas in an increasingly lively game, the PAOK defender levelling with a header 12 minutes from time.

The early dominance had been Club Brugge's and forward Ivan Perišić swung in a cross that flew over visiting goalkeeper Dario Kresic and against the angle of post and crossbar. PAOK came into the match as the first half wore on, however, with Dimitris Salpingidis slaloming his way into the home area.

Shortly before half-time, though, the Greek side had a narrow escape as Kouemaha beat Kresic to a corner but only succeeded in heading over. Kouemaha, Brugge's Cameroonian striker, went even closer moments after the restart, nodding Perišić's cross centimetres wide.

Adrie Koster's men were turning up the pressure, and it told on the hour. Vadis Odjidja broke through midfield, Nabil Dirar continued the forward momentum and centred perfectly from the left for Kouemaha to slot in. The goal stirred opponents who, in the play-offs, eliminated Fenerbahçe SK in Istanbul. Yet for all their renewed vigour, Pavlos Dermitzakis's charges were fortunate not to concede again. Kresic saved from Wilfried Dalmat. Then Vladimir Ivić cleared Ryan Donk's attempt away from the goal line.

It was from a set piece at the other end that the equaliser came: Malezas flicking Vieirinha's corner beyond the grasp of goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen. Ronald Vargas almost restored the home advantage yet his free-kick found the side netting. Equally, Stijnen twice came to Brugge's rescue with stops from Vieirinha and Giorgos Fotakis.

PAOK's next assignment is against NK Dinamo Zagreb on 30 September in Thessaloniki, while the Belgian club travel to Villarreal CF.