Villa upset heads Europa action

Aston Villa have work to do in the UEFA Europa League after losing their play-off first leg on Thursday away to Austria's Rapid Vienna 1-0.

The Austrians caught Villa cold as Nikica Jelavic netted the only goal in the opening minute to floor the English Premier League side, who began their league campaign last week with a surprising home loss to Wigan.

Villa coach Martin O'Neill shrugged off the defeat. "We knew this was going to be exceptionally difficult - so will the return tie - but we are going to try to win," said O'Neill, a European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest. "Of course we can overturn it. It was never going to be an easy match but this time next week we will be fitter again."

Another top flight English side, Everton, had a much easier time of it as they swamped Czech club Sigma Olomouc 4-0 in their first game of the Europa League, a revamped version of the UEFA Cup. Louis Saha and Jack Rodwell both scored twice, either side of half-time to bolster Everton's morale after an opening Premier League mauling by Arsenal, 6-1 at Goodison Park.

"Jack has great potential and we hope he will go on to fulfil it. We will bring him along in the right way," said Everton boss David Moyes. "He has a bit to go yet. We will use him in the games we see fit. Tonight he showed he is a very good player."

Fulham won 3-1 at home to Russian unknown quantities Amkar Perm with Andy Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora all on target. There was heartbreak for Scotland's Hearts, however, after a 4-0 thrashing at Dinamo Zagreb.

Slovakian side Kosice meanwhile gave glitzy Italian rivals AS Roma a fright as they shared six goals with the hosts' Jan Novak grabbing a brace, to add to a four-goal haul last week in a league loss to Spartak Trnava. Francesco Totti also hit a double for Roma.

Hamburg dominant
One side almost guaranteed the win over two legs, and a place in the group stages, are Germany's in-form Hamburg, who swamped Guingamp 5-1 in France with Croatian playmaker Mladen Petric scoring a hat-trick. Jose Paolo Guerrero and Marcus Berg were the Germans' other scorers.

There looks to be no fairytale for Irish side St Patricks Athletic, on the evidence of their 3-0 loss away to Romania's former European champions Steaua Bucharest. The Irish were undone after the break by goals from Banel Nicolita and then a brace from Bogdan Stancu.

Spain's former UEFA Champions League semi-finalists Villarreal and Switzerland's Basel both scored 3-1 away successes at Netherland's NAC Breda and Azeri outfit Baku respectively - Marco Streller took the plaudits for Basel with at two-goal show.

Two Israeli sides enjoyed contrasting fortunes as Hapoel Tel Aviv won 2-1 with a last-gasp winner at Czech opponents Teplice but city rivals Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv went down to an Ibrahim Afellay goal as PSV Eindhoven clinched a 1-0 away leg success. Elsewhere, Dutch side Heerenveen would appear to be in the driving seat after a 1-1 draw away to PAOK Salonika of Greece.

Litex Lovetch of Bulgaria won by the only goal at Belarus rivals BATA Borisov and the Austria versus Ukraine matches between Sturm Graz and Metalist Kharkov and Metalurgs Donetsk and Austria Vienna both ended in scoring draws. CSKA Sofia of Bulgaria and Dinamo Moscow ended a goalless stalemate in the Bulgarian capital.