Atromitos holds Newcastle, PAOK beats Rapid in stormy encounter

Atromitos held Premier League side Newcastle to a 1-1 draw in Athens on Thursday night in the first leg of their Europa League playoff tie, while PAOK beat Rapid Vienna 2-1 in a game that will be remembered more for the riot police?s intervention after fighting broke out between rival fans.

The police fired tear gas ahead of the games after the two sets of fired flares at each other. About 700 Rapid Vienna supporters travelled to Thessaloniki for the match. The club?s fans have developed close ties with supporters of Panathinaikos and it appears that this stoked tension ahead of the game.

Dozens of PAOK fans went on the pitch ahead of the game and threw missiles at the Rapid Vienna section. This led to the game?s start being delayed for five minutes.

In the actual match, the hosts went behind in the 25th minute but second half goals from Stefanos Athanasiadis and a winner seven minutes from full time by Giorgos Katsikas gave PAOK the victory.

The Greek side had been playing with 10 men from the 75th minute after Romanian Costin Lazar received a second yellow card.

Greek cup finalists Atromitos put on a brave performance in Athens against a much-changed Newcastle side.

Newcastle were playing in Europe for the first time in five years but coach Alan Pardew made nine changes from the side which beat Tottenham in their opening Premier League match at the weekend to give fringe players some game time.

The new faces included Adam Campbell, a second half substitute who became the Magpies’ youngest European debutant at 17 years and 236 days – 64 days younger than former favourite Andy Carroll when he played in Palermo in 2006.

Another getting a rare game was former first choice keeper Steve Harper, who at 37 was handed a start with Dutch international Tim Krul giving way.

“In the second half, I was a little bit disappointed we didn’t get the win – I thought there were good opportunities – but overall, I was very, very pleased with the performance,» said Pardew, who also gave youngsters Romain Amalfitano and James Tavernier chances to prove themselves in stifling heat at the Peristeri Stadium.

Harper was unable to keep a clean sheet as German striker Denis Epstein gave the hosts the lead on 24 minutes before Ryan Taylor fired home a free kick in first half stoppage time to give Newcastle a good chance of reaching the group stage with the home leg to come.

Pardew rang the changes with his team facing a difficult trip to Chelsea on Saturday, though striker Papiss Cisse did feature.

Cisse set up a headed chance for Sylvain Marveaux after the break but the Frenchman was unable to find the target.