Europe League Round-up

Everton cruise to win over Athens

September 17, 2009
By Soccernet staff

Everton put their domestic struggles aside to secure a comfortable 4-0 win over AEK Athens at Goodison Park in their Europa League opener on Thursday night.

Everton's Louis Saha is sent off against AEK
GettyImagesEverton's Louis Saha is sent off against AEK

Joseph Yobo, Sylvain Distin and Steven Pienaar all scored before half time and Jo added the fourth in the second half. However, the night ended on a sour note with substitute Louis Saha sent off in stoppage time for lashing out at Juanfran. AEK's Carlos Araujo was also sent off after kicking Distin in the testicles.

Celtic managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory as the Bhoys lost 2-1 to Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Bloomfield Stadium.

Georgios Samaras' 25th minute strike had put the Hoops ahead and they looked in control at half time. However, with 15 minutes remaining Hapoel playmaker Nemanja Vucicevic slammed in the equaliser after being set up by Samuel Yeboah (nephew of former Leeds United star Tony Yeboah) and substitute Maaran Lala grabbed the winner in a tense finale.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson made nine changes to the team that beat Everton in the Premier League on Sunday for their trip to Sofia to face CSKA and the Cottagers came away with a creditable 1-1 draw.

Michel Platini scored a 63rd-minute opener for the home side but Diomansy Kamara pounced just three minutes later to secure a point in the Vasil Levski National Stadium.

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.

Liedson scored all three of his side's goals as Sporting Lisbon bounced back from an early deficit to defeat Heerenveen 3-2. 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.

Rapid Vienna got their campaign off to a dream start with a 3-0 victory over Hamburg SV. 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.

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.

Emre Belozoglu of Fenerbahce vies with Douglas
GettyImagesEmre Belozoglu of Fenerbahce vies with Douglas

Genoa made a winning return to Europe with a 2-0 home triumph over Slavia Prague. 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.

Hertha Berlin's miserable season continued as they were held to a 1-1 draw by European minnows FK Ventspils. Lukasz Piszczek opened the scoring in the 34th minute for the Bundesliga side but Edgars Gauracs levelled matters three minutes after the break.

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.

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.