Zagreb overcome ten-man Villarreal
© AFP

Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb surprised 10-man Villarreal to open their UEFA Europa League Group D campaign in fine style at Stadion Maksimir.

Ante Rukavina gave the home side an 18th-minute lead before the Spanish side had Marcos Senna dismissed for a second booking in the 74th minute. Jorge Sammir then grabbed the second five minutes later to seal the win.

Villarreal had entered the game on the back of a convincing 4-0 Primera Division win over Espanyol but they were always on the back foot as the hosts made an assured start. Milan Badelj had a pot-shot from the edge of the box blocked while Leandro Cufre blazed over the bar after finding space in the area.

And they took a deserved lead when Sammir played a fine ball through to Rukavina, whose shot from an acute angle beat Diego Lopez in goal. Ivan Tomecak was off target with another chance for the home side and Lopez made an excellent stop to deny former Liverpool midfielder Igor Biscan.

A handful of long-range efforts from Jefferson Montero were all the visitors had to show for their efforts during a terrible first-half display. And things were barely any better during the second period, with Ruben Cani blowing a great chance for Dinamo as their dominance continued.

Villarreal's task became even tougher when Senna saw red after he was given a second booking for a poor challenge on Cufre. Dinamo made them pay as Cufre slid a lovely ball through to Sammir and the midfielder kept his composure to slot home with his right foot.

The second goal brought a response from the Spanish side and Guiseppe Rossi forced Ivan Kelava to push his wicked cross round the post before Montero dragged an effort wide after the hosts had failed to deal with the resulting corner. Jozy Altidore then failed to connect properly with another Rossi cross and the hosts eventually saw out a comfortable win.