The curtain was raised on a number of new league seasons across Europe this weekend, with Danish champions FC København making a winning start to their title defence in contrast to their Swiss and Austrian counterparts FC Basel 1893 and SK Sturm Graz.
København finished 26 points clear of nearest rivals Odense BK last term and the Copenhagen side set out to claim a fourth consecutive Super League crown with a 2-0 success at SønderjyskE. Due to contest the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round later this month, FCK have undergone various personnel changes since last season – not least with Roland Nilsson replacing coach Ståle Solbakken – but it was familiar duo César Santin and Dame N'Doye who got them up and running. As for OB, they kept pace by downing FC Nordsjælland by the same scoreline.
Swiss Super League winners in the last two years, Basel are looking for a hat-trick of titles but they could hardly have asked for a stiffer task on the opening day of the campaign. Led by former Basel coach Christian Gross, hosts BSC Young Boys have the air of serious challengers and so they demonstrated as they held the champions to a 1-1 draw. That was the outcome between SV Ried and Sturm Graz in Austria's Bundesliga too, where much-fancied FC Salzburg posted an early marker by dispatching FK Austria Wien 2-0.
Runners-up like Salzburg in 2010/2011, Hungarian First League hopefuls Paksi SE edged domestic cup winners Kecskeméti TE 3-2 in their first assignment, and there were opening wins to celebrate for Slovak titleholders ŠK Slovan Bratislava and Slovenian champions NK Maribor as well. Dejan Mezga's 83rd-minute penalty made the difference for Maribor in their 2-1 defeat of ND Gorica, with the victors now free to focus on defending their 2-0 lead against F91 Dudelange in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League second qualifying round decider. Slovan saw off TTS Trencin 3-1.
IF Elfsborg had to wait even later than Maribor for the decisive moment of their trip to struggling Halmstads BK in Sweden, David Elm completing a 2-1 comeback success six minutes into added time with his second of the encounter. Having now played 17 matches, Elfsborg lie joint top with Helsingborgs IF, who will contest their game in hand on Monday. Over in Norway, Molde FK remain three points clear of Tromsø IL, having played one match more.
The situation is even tighter in Kazakhstan, where FC Astana lead FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan by a single point after both collected weekend wins. The frontrunners almost slipped from the summit with just two games to go, however, requiring Dragan Bogavac's last-minute penalty to secure a 1-0 defeat of FC Taraz. In Ukraine, finally, both FC Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Dynamo Kyiv prevailed in their second outings this term, Dynamo improving on their draw with FC Metalist Kharkiv last weekend.
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