Opening night shocks abound
Basel got their UEFA Europa League adventure off to the best possible start with a 2-0 victory over Roma on Thursday. Carlitos opened the scoring in the 11th minute before substitute Federico Almerares put the game beyond Roma's reach three minutes from time.
In the other match in Group E, Diomansy Kamara pounced to secure Fulham a creditable 1-1 draw at CSKA Sofia. Michel opened the scoring for the hosts in the 63rd minute but the lead lasted only three minutes before Kamara rifled home.
Rapid Vienna got their Group C campaign off to a dream start with a 3-0 victory over Hamburg. The Bundesliga outfit were stunned by first-half goals from Steffen Hofmann and Nikica Jelavic before substitute Christopher Drazan sealed the result in the 76th minute. The result gives the Austrian side hope of qualifying from a tough pool which includes Hapoel Tel Aviv of Israel and Scottish giants Celtic.
Celtic managed to grab a 2-1 defeat from the jaws of victory against Hapoel in their opener in the Bloomfield stadium. Georgios Samaras' 25th-minute strike had put the Hoops ahead and they looked in control as the second half unfolded, but Hapoel playmaker Nemanja Vucicevic slammed in the equaliser with 15 minutes remaining and substitute Maaran Lala bundled in the 88th-minute winner.
In Group F, Elano was the star of the show as Galatasaray cruised to a 3-1 win over Panathinaikos. The Brazilian, a summer signing from Manchester City, scored two and set up the other for Milan Baros as the Turkish giants took control of the game. Dimitris Salpingidis got a late goal back for the hosts but only after the match was beyond their reach. In the same group, Gabriel Tamas' goal 10 minutes from time earned Dinamo Bucharest all three points at Sturm Graz.
Italian pride saved
Genoa made a winning return to Europe with a 2-0 home triumph over Slavia Prague in Group B. Alberto Zapater put the Rossoblu ahead after just four minutes with an unstoppable free-kick from 20 yards and Giuseppe Sculli added a second five minutes before the break. Also in Group B, substitute Gervinho struck a late equaliser to earn Lille a 1-1 draw at home to Valencia, cancelling out Juan Mata's 78th-minute opener.
Ajax's Europa League Group A campaign got off to a disappointing start tonight as they were held to a goalless home draw by Romanian outfit FC Timisoara. That result allowed Anderlecht to take an early lead of the pool courtesy of their 2-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb. Victor Bernardez and Jonathan Legear struck late on as the Belgian outfit snatched an impressive away win.
Liedson scored all three of his side's goals as Sporting Lisbon bounced back from an early deficit to defeat Heerenveen 3-2 in Group D. The Brazil-born Portugal international struck twice in the first half before netting an 88th-minute winner to cancel out goals from Gerald Sibon and Michael Dingsdag for the hosts. In the same pool, Hertha Berlin's miserable season continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw by European minnows Ventspils. Lukasz Piszczek opened the scoring in the 34th minute for the Bundesliga side but Edgars Gauracs levelled matters three minutes after the break.
Marc Janko scored a last-gasp winner to give Salzburg a 2-1 away victory over Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. Pasquale Foggia gave the hosts the lead on the hour mark but Franz Schiemer equalised in the 82nd minute before Janko struck seconds from time to hand the Austrian champions all three points in Rome. Also in Group G, record signing Nilmar returned to secure a 1-0 win for Villarreal against Levski Sofia at El Madrigal.
In Group H, a late brace by Blaise Nkufo saw Twente come from behind to beat Fenerbahce 2-1. Substitute Mehmet Topuz put his side in front in the 71st minute but their lead lasted just three minutes before Nkufo levelled matters. The Switzerland striker then scored the winner 10 minutes from time.
Steve McClaren's men top the group after the opening round of fixtures following Steaua Bucharest's surprise 0-0 draw at home with FC Sheriff Tiraspol. Shakhtar Donetsk stunned Club Brugge with three first-half goals en route to a 4-1 away victory in their Group J opener.
Oleksiy Gai, Willian and Darijo Srna were all on target as last season's UEFA Cup winners clinched a deserved three points in Belgium. As if confirmation were needed that it was not to be Brugge's evening, Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe saw his 55th-minute penalty saved by Andrei Pyatov. Karel Geraerts did pull one back seven minutes later, but substitute Kostyantin Kravchenko's fine free-kick soon restored Shakhtar's three-goal cushion.
The other match in the pool also produced five goals, with Toulouse turning around an early deficit to sink Partizan Belgrade 3-2 in Serbia. Partizan had led through Mladen Krstajic's 24th-minute header, but two goals in nine minutes from Pantxi Sirieix after the half hour turned the game on its head against the run of play. Toulouse then added a third through Antoine Devaux before substitute Cordova Cleo got one back for the hosts.
In Group L, Claudio Pizarro spared Werder Bremen's blushes after they threw away a two-goal lead at Nacional. Last season's beaten UEFA Cup finalists were deservedly ahead at half-time through a Torsten Frings penalty and doubled their lead thanks to Pizarro 10 minutes after the break. But goals from Felipe Lopes and Rafik Halliche looked like salvaging a point for Nacional, until Pizarro intervened five minutes from time to secure a 3-2 away win.
Also in Group L, Athletic Bilbao's 16-year-old wonderkid Iker Muniain played a starring role as the Basques swept aside Austria Vienna 3-0. Muniain won an early penalty and capped the victory with a fine goal to add to Fernando Llorente's brace.
Everton shrugged off their poor domestic form to record a 4-0 home win over AEK Athens in Group I. David Moyes' side raced into a 3-0 lead by half-time thanks to goals from Joseph Yobo, Sylvain Distin and Steven Pienaar. Jo extended their lead in the second period but substitute Louis Saha was sent off in stoppage time for lashing out at Juanfran.
The Toffees lead the pool from Benfica, who were 2-0 winners over BATE thanks to first-half goals from Nuno Gomes and Oscar Cardozo. Sparta Prague coach Jozef Chovanec was left tearing his hair out after his side twice went ahead but quickly conceded equalisers to PSV Eindhoven in a lively second half in the Czech capital.
Roman Hubnik headed Sparta in front in the 76th minute but four minutes later Brazilian forward Jonathan Reis equalised for PSV. The impressive Martin Zeman then looked to have won it with an 87th-minute strike only for 20-year-old Reis to level again from the penalty spot to secure a 2-2 draw. Also in Group K, second-half goals from Juan Culio and half-time substitute Lacina Traore saw CFR Cluj overcome Copenhagen 2-0 to ease the pressure on coach Antonio Conceicao.