Sparta edge out Palermo
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Sparta Prague opened their UEFA Europa League group campaign with a high-scoring victory at home to Palermo.

Bony Wilfred nodded in Sparta's first goal in the 17th minute as the hosts enjoyed a flying start to the Group F encounter. Palermo's summer signing Massimo Maccarone equalised in the 38th minute but Jiri Kladrubsky put the Czechs back in front shortly after the hour mark.

With 15 minutes remaining, Vaclav Kadlec added his team's third before Abel Hernandez gave the Italians a lifeline with seven minutes remaining. Sparta held on to claim maximum points at the AXA Arena.

The hosts enjoyed a strong start with Kladrubsky testing the Palermo goalkeeper with a right-footed strike from the edge of the area which Salvatore Sirigu saved. At the other end, Javier Pastore forced Jaromir Blazek to fully stretch to clear his bullet strike from outside the area.

It didn't take long for the home side to break the deadlock. Kladrubsky's cross from the right found Wilfred inside the area and his 12-yard header beat Sirigu. Palermo pressed forward and levelled the score before half-time. Maccarone's left-footed strike from six yards found the left corner of the net.

The Italians were unlucky not to take the lead in the 62nd minute as Javier Pastore's stinging drive from long range beat the goalkeeper but crashed off the crossbar. Sparta hit back six minutes later when Kladrubsky latched onto Manuel Pamic's cross from the left and his close-range header beat Sirigu.

Palermo tried to get back on even terms but found themselves 3-1 down after Kadlec smashed a left-footed shot from 12 yards past the Italian goalkeeper. The Sicilians reduced arrears shortly after, Federico Balzaretti's cross finding Hernandez inside the six-yard box and he hit the ball into the back of the net.

Palermo then threatened again as substitute Patjim Kasami got his head to Fabio Liverani's cross but the ball went over the crossbar to preserve the Czech advantage. Palermo ultimately failed in their attempt to get a point as their faltering start to the campaign in all competitions continued.