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CSKA leave PAOK with plenty to ponder

Tomáš Necid's first-half goal is all that separates the sides heading into next week's round of 32 decider in the Russian capital.

Tomáš Necid celebrates after putting CSKA in front against PAOK
Tomáš Necid celebrates after putting CSKA in front against PAOK ©Getty Images

Tomáš Necid's smart finish was enough for PFC CSKA Moskva to inflict a first defeat on PAOK FC in seven European home fixtures.

Having dropped only two points in the group stage, it was hardly surprising that the Russian outfit asserted their authority throughout this round of 32 first leg. PAOK had their moments, albeit fleeting, but the visitors were always in command from the moment Necid struck his sixth UEFA Europa League goal of the season 29 minutes in.

PAOK's start, by contrast, belied their status as the lowest scoring team to have reached this stage; positive and inventive, Vieirinha and Dimitris Salpingidis were only denied an early opener by smart saves from Igor Akinfeev.

Leonid Slutski's team, though, average three goals a game in this competition for a reason. Zoran Tošić may have been wayward, but Necid made no such mistake, chesting down Georgi Schennikov's cross and shooting into the ground past Kostas Chalkias.

The home keeper did come out on top twice against Necid before the half was out, with Seydou Doumbia also rebuffed, but was cutting an increasingly exposed figure. It was his visiting counterpart, Akinfeev, who was isloated on 58 minutes, however; substitute Nabil El Zhar's first touch was unorthodox but effective, his second well-intentioned but off target.

Though PAOK briefly asked tentative questions once more, a familiar pattern was soon restored. CSKA, unflustered on the ball, continued to show a wisdom in possession conspicuous by its absence among Ioakim Havos's charges. Necid again went close with an instinctive overhead kick, but the deficit remains a solitary goal ahead of Tuesday's return in Moscow.

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