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PAOK move closer but Brugge eliminated

PAOK FC 1-1 Club Brugge KV
Stefan Šćepović's late strike gave the visitors hope, but they could not capitalise and PAOK still need only a point to reach the round of 32.

PAOK ended Brugge's hopes of qualifying
PAOK ended Brugge's hopes of qualifying ©Getty Images

PAOK FC's 1-1 draw against Club Brugge KV means the Greek side now need only to avoid defeat on Matchday 6 in order to be sure of advancing from UEFA Europa League Group D.

Vierinha's first-half bolt from the blue gave PAOK the lead and although Stefan Šćepović equalised a minute from time, Villarreal CF's defeat of NK Dinamo Zagreb means PAOK are still well placed to progress. A point in Croatia against nearest rivals Dinamo on 15 December will be enough for them to reach the round of 32, while Brugge are out.

The Belgian side knew they had to win to stay alive but looked reluctant to go for broke. The Toumbas Stadium's immaculate surface made for tidy passing until the one ball that mattered most – the final one. Vierinha, therefore, took matters into his own hands on 25 minutes, unleashing a dipping, swerving shot which caught Stijn Stijnen cold and left Brugge facing a mountainous task.

Stijnen's PAOK counterpart, Dario Kresic, still had nothing with which to warm his own palms when his captain, Pablo Contreras, fired recklessly over soon after the interval. Dimitris Salpingidis also failed to keep the ball down just after the hour but had sufficient mitigation after stretching to meet Zuela's vicious cross with a first-time volley.

Šćepović's 69th-minute header finally forced Kresic to make a notable save but Giorgos Fotakis should have put the game to bed late on. There was still time for Šćepović to head in Peter Van der Heyden's cross at the back post but it did not prove enough to alter the course of the section.