A late strike from Kew Jaliens put AZ Alkmaar top of Group E after they overcame a spirited fightback from Sheriff Tiraspol.
The Moldovan side found themselves a goal down inside 15 minutes when Johann Berg Gudmundsson sent a left-foot shot into the net from just six yards.
It was the perfect start for the Dutch side but Sheriff continued to push forward and were unlucky not to equalise in the 23rd minute when Franca Jymmy saw a spectacular overhead kick well saved by Joseph Didulica in the AZ goal.
In the 33rd minute AZ wasted a chance to double their lead when Erik Falkenburg sent a right-foot shot just wide of the right-hand upright.
Sheriff had keeper Vladislav Stoyanov to thank for keeping them in the game in the 51st minute.
The Sheriff stopper punched away an 18-yard shot from Rasmus Elm as the home side looked for a decisive second.
But the visitors were determined to make the Dutch side battle all the way for the victory but their chances looked to have faded when Jymmy sent a 12-yard effort high over the bar in the 52nd minute.
The breakthrough finally arrived for Sheriff in the 67th minute when Baco Nikolic put them on level terms.
He sent a stunning 25-yard shot into the net to stun the home side and set up a frantic finish.
It was the home side who managed to find the winning goal as they pushed forward in numbers.
Sheriff found themselves on the back foot as AZ searched for the winner.
That finally arrived just seven minutes from time when Jaliens finished off a fine move with a 12-yard header that evaded Stoyanov's despairing dive.
Sheriff threw everything into attack in the closing minutes - replacing Milos Adamovic with Edgars Gauracs in the hope of scoring a second equaliser.
Gauracs almost made an instant impact by forcing AZ into giving away a number of dangerous free-kicks.
But Sheriff could not take advantage and the Dutch side's defence held firm to record an opening victory that left on top of the Group E table.