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De Pauw powers Lokeren to Metalist win

KSC Lokeren OV 1-0 FC Metalist Kharkiv
Nill De Pauw's fine finish on 74 minutes earned the hosts their first points in Group L after a tight game in Belgium.

Lokeren's Nill De Pauw (black shirt) celebrates his opening goal against Metalist
Lokeren's Nill De Pauw (black shirt) celebrates his opening goal against Metalist ©AFP/Getty Images

Nill De Pauw breaks deadlock in tight game after 74 minutes
Lokeren earn their first Group L points; Metalist suffer second loss
Metalist's Ayila Yussuf makes his 50th appearance in UEFA club competition
Next games: Trabzonspor v Lokeren, Metalist v Legia (23 October)

KSC Lokeren OV claimed their first points in UEFA Europa League Group L courtesy of a 1-0 success against FC Metalist Kharkiv, Nill De Pauw eventually edging a tight encounter in Belgium.

Both sides looked eager to bounce back after losing their opening games, but it took a composed, precise finish to finally decide a match short on clear chances. Pressure had come at either end, yet the Belgian Cup holders were fully worth their win as De Pauw delivered the telling blow on 74 minutes.

They had certainly kicked off with bright intentions, heeding coach Peter Maes's call to make home advantage count. That translated into an early opening for Mbaye Leye, who was thwarted by goalkeeper Vladimir Dišljenković after racing clear, but gradually the tide of the first half turned as Metalist's players employed their crisp technique to good effect.

Igor Rakhaiev's men struggled for more than territorial gains, however, home custodian Boubacar Barry saving comfortably from Cristian Villagra and Serhiy Bolbat, and immediately after the restart Lokeren were back. Indeed, Besart Abdurahimi should perhaps have done better after bursting through Metalist's rearguard; instead his under-hit attempt was easily saved.

As in the first period, Metalist would not be denied pressure of their own, and Cleiton Xavier forced Barry to tip over a fierce effort at his near post. It was Lokeren who ultimately broke the deadlock, though, De Pauw advancing towards the left edge of the area, cutting inside his marker and curling an excellent shot low past Dišljenković.