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Salonika's stars happy to heap praise on Hoops

THEY ARE heroes in their own land, though the PAOK Salonika squad are not all that well known beyond the borders of Greece.

But that could start to change if PAOK's players come up with more performances like last night's display against Shamrock Rovers, a very fine bunch who could definitely play for bigger clubs in a better league.

Costin Lazar (Romanian), Diego Arias (Colombian) and Vierinha (Portuguese) are not even famous in their native lands as the trio are uncapped at senior level, but they stood out for PAOK as players of true class last night, especially Vierinha, who was linked with Blackburn Rovers a while back.

Note the name, as this lad will play for a bigger club some day.

PAOK did have to work hard for their win, but their players made an impression and their fans made a few friends too, as the local supporters applauded the hardy band of Rovers fans at the end of the game and across the city last night, pints were being bought and scarves swapped, with no hint of the malice which had been predicted in some over-enthusiastic quarters.

"Shamrock Rovers are a good team but our quality came out on top. I think we showed that we were the better team and the result was fair," PAOK midfielder Lazar (pictured above) told the Evening Herald.

"Their players fought for each other and worked hard, but I think we were the better team last night.

"But I think we will have a very hard game in Dublin. Shamrock Rovers showed last night that they can play well and can score goals, so we will have to fight hard for the points against them in Ireland.

"For me, I am happy with the game because we won the match and I scored a goal," added the 30-year-old.