English Premier League side Everton resisted a valiant fightback by BATE Borisov to leave Belarus with a 2-1 win in their UEFA Europa League matchday two encounter on Thursday. Lazio and Turkish outfit Fenerbahce were among the few other teams to win away from home, the Italians beating Levski Sofia 4-0 in Bulgaria and the Turks beating FC Sherriff 1-0 in Moldova.
Elsewhere, home advantage was put to good use as FC Salzburg punched above their weight to beat tricky Spaniards Villarreal 2-0. Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk thumped Partizan Belgrade of Serbia 4-1 at home while FC Copenhagen won 1-0 in the Danish capital against Sparta Prague. AEK Athens, PSV Eindhoven, Fulham, Valencia and Werder Bremen also won at home.
Everton have been regular participants in this competition, formerly known as the UEFA Cup, in recent years but came into the current campaign with the bit between their teeth as they battle to move up from mid-table in the Premier League.
David Moyes' side showed their mettle, however, in a match which BATE Borisov could easily had equalised, and indeed won, during a thrilling final ten minutes in Belarus. Everton were a goal down by the 16th minute as Dmitri Likhtarovich pounced on a loose ball 35 metres out and smashed it into the top corner past Tim Howard.
The Toffees equalised through Marouane Fellaini in the 68th minute and barely ten minutes later Tim Cahill put the Merseysiders into the driving seat by somehow getting his foot to a loose ball in the penalty area to beat the BATE Borisov keeper.
"It was a really pleasing result considering the number of players who were not available," said Everton boss David Moyes, whose squad was missing ten first-teamers. "We were resilient and that allowed us to get the victory. They scored an excellent goal but we regrouped and managed to get the goals we needed."
Lazio have claimed only two wins from their six Serie A games so far but the Roman club were on fire in Sofia. Brazilian midfielder Matuzalem opened the scoring in the 22nd minute and by half-time the visitors had doubled their advantage thanks to striker Mauro Zarate. The Italian side then got goals in the 67th and 73 minutes through Mourad Meghni and Tommaso Rocchi.
Celtic's Europa League ambitions suffered another blow when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Rapid Vienna. Celtic, who had lost their opening Group C match at Hapoel Tel Aviv, slipped behind after just three minutes at Parkhead when a mistake by Stephen McManus gifted Nikica Jelavic a goal. Australia's Scott McDonald levelled in the 20th minute but Celtic could not find the winner as the Scottish giants slumped to the foot of the table following Hamburg's 4-2 win over Hapoel Tel-Aviv.
Danny Murphy struck the only goal in the 57th minute at Craven Cottage for Fulham converting a fine pass from Andrew Johnson, as the English saw off tough Swiss outfit Basel. "We were playing a good team, it was a very tough game," said Fulham manager Roy Hodgson. "We were better in the second half, got on top and luckily scored our goal - but they made it tough to the final minutes.
"It was a gritty performance in terms of our defending - which is an important part of the game. We were able to rest one or two senior players, who I hope will recover for the weekend. It's important to use your squad in this competition."
All results 10.1.2009
RSC Anderlecht 1-1 AFC Ajax
FC Timişoara 0-3 NK Dinamo Zagreb
SK Slavia Praha 1-5 LOSC Lille Métropole
Valencia CF 3-2 Genoa CFC
Hamburger SV 4-2 Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC
Celtic FC 1-1 SK Rapid Wien
Sporting Clube de Portugal 1-0 Hertha BSC Berlin
FK Ventspils 0-0 SC Heerenveen
AS Roma 2-0 PFC CSKA Sofia
Fulham FC 1-0 FC Basel 1893
FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti 0-1 Panathinaikos FC
Galatasaray AŞ 1-1 SK Sturm Graz
PFC Levski Sofia 0-4 S.S. Lazio
FC Salzburg 2-0 Villarreal CF
FC Twente 0-0 FC Steaua Bucureşti
FC Sheriff 0-1 Fenerbahçe SK
AEK Athens FC 1-0 SL Benfica
FC BATE Borisov 1-2 Everton FC
Toulouse FC 2-2 Club Brugge KV
FC Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 FK Partizan
FC København 1-0 AC Sparta Praha
PSV Eindhoven 1-0 CFR 1907 Cluj
Werder Bremen 3-1 Athletic Club Bilbao
FK Austria Wien 1-1 CD Nacional