Proud PAOK claim top spot
Paok Thessalonikis have claimed top spot in UEFA Europa League Group A with a 1-1 win against Russian side Rubin Kazan that saw both sides reach the last 32 of the competition
Paok Thessalonikis have claimed top spot in UEFA Europa League Group A with a 1-1 win against Russian side Rubin Kazan that saw both sides reach the last 32 of the competition.
The match swung decisively in PAOK's favour when in the 12th minute Rubin goalkeeper Sergei Ryzhikov was sent off for what was deemed a professional foul on Georgios Georgiadis. PAOK's Portuguese star Vieirinha was kept waiting three minutes to take the resulting penalty as substitute goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis came on. Vieirinha though remained cool and neatly converted the penalty to give the home side the lead.
Argentinian left-back Cristian Ansaldi's daisy-cutter from long range for Rubin was easily gathered by PAOK goalkeeper Panagiotis Glikos, while Arlauskis then gave his team-mates a scare after initially fumbling a cross from the left by Vieirinha.
Rubin wasted another chance as Ansaldi's cross from the left was volleyed high over the top by the onrushing Ecuadorian Cristian Noboa after 23 minutes.
PAOK were content to play their patient passing game as they looked sure of being group winners, while Rubin were clearly determined not to let the deficit widen.
PAOK's Italian Defender Bruno Cirillo fired an ambitious shot wide of Arlauskis' right-hand post in first-half injury time in a rare effort on goal.
Rubin made the perfect start to the second half as Valdez received possession from Bebras Natcho from the right and lashed a shot home from 12 yards in the 48th minute.
Arlauskis then produced a stunning save to keep the match level nine minutes later, getting down brilliantly to his left to parry away Georgiadis' powerful right-footed strike after Vieirinha's cross from the right picked him out.
The pace of the game slowed, with the draw suiting both sides, although PAOK did not sit back and came agonisingly close to a winner in the final minute of normal time when substitute Giorgos Fotakis headed Lino's cross from the left just over.
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