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Vieirinha heads PAOK past Villarreal

PAOK FC 1-0 Villarreal CF
Vieirinha's second-half header ensured the hosts avenged their Matchday 3 defeat in Spain and climbed top of Group D.

PAOK celebrate after beating Villarreal to go ahead of them in Group D
PAOK celebrate after beating Villarreal to go ahead of them in Group D ©Getty Images

UEFA Europa League Group D has a new leader after PAOK FC beat Villarreal CF 1-0 to leapfrog the Spanish side and go to the section summit.

Beaten by the same scoreline in Spain a fortnight ago, PAOK were second best for much of the return. One moment of direct precision, though, and they found themselves in front through Vieirinha's 70th-minute header. It was a lead they rarely looked like squandering and they duly saw out the latter stages to go atop the table.

However, celebrating their 100th game in UEFA club competition, the hosts had shown little early ambition to celebrate in style. Villarreal were equally watchful, seemingly content to play for their first away draw in Europe in 11 matches, but only after going close to striking the earliest of blows.

With just two minutes gone, Mateo Musacchio headed narrowly over from Borja Valero's whipped free-kick. Vladimir Ivić rose highest at the other end ten minutes later but he too was wayward, failing to add the finish his well-timed run deserved.

Giorgos Fotakis did at least hit the target, only to find Diego López, and should have tested the visiting keeper again nine minutes after the interval, shooting into the side netting when the far corner beckoned. Juan Carlos Garrido's side, prompted into action, finally begun stamping their class on the occasion.

They failed to translate their ascendancy into any tangible threat, though, and PAOK needed no second invitation to send the home crowd into raptures. They did so in the simplest of fashion; Pablo García's corner and Vieirinha's downward header doing the damage.