Asteras Tripolis and PAOK took one point each at the start their campaigns at the Europa League group stage on Thursday, as Asteras ended up in a 1-1 parity with Sparta Prague at home and PAOK got a goalless draw from Qabala in Azerbaijan.
Asteras led from the second minute of the eventful match at Tripoli as Pablo Mazza scored the game’s opener, but Sparta enjoyed more possession and chances in the rest of the first half.
After Asteras missed a couple of good chances at the start of the second half, hitting the woodwork once too, Sparta equalized courtesy of its captain, David Lafata on the 56th minute. The match could have gone either way, but eventually the two teams had to settle for a draw.
Playing at the Azeri capital Baku, PAOK drew 0-0 with host Qabala, repeating the result Panathinaikos had recorded against the same opponent last month.
PAOK was the better team in the first half but was rather lucky not to concede in the second. The Greek team had Robert Mak to blame for wasting a number of goal-scoring chances.
Dimitar Berbatov made his European debut with PAOK coming on as a substitute at the hour mark.