Newcastle United FC, FC Dinamo Tbilisi and Panionios NFC all lost at the weekend as Group D rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal eased to a morale-boosting win in Portugal.
Graeme Souness experienced his first defeat as Newcastle manager as Bolton Wanderers FC brought a ten-game unbeaten run to an end at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday. The Scot's decision to play Patrick Kluivert just behind Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy did not work out as Kevin Davies gave Bolton a 2-1 win which left Newcastle in eighth place. Darren Ambrose had earlier scored a wonderful goal to draw the sides level, but it was his midfield partner Nicky Butt who took the plaudits with a tenacious performance. Butt will be missing, however, when Newcastle host FC Dinamo Tbilisi on Thursday as he completes a three-match suspension. Jermaine Jenas is likely to recover from a back injury to reclaim his place, while Laurent Robert could also push for a start.
Dinamo lost 2-1 against FC Torpedo Kutaisi but stayed top of the Georgian Premier League on goal difference. It was their second successive league defeat following the 5-0 reverse at local rivals FC Tbilisi last week. Goalkeeper Irakli Zoidze was dropped following that performance, with Zurab Mamaladze replacing him. Dinamo also welcomed back left midfield player Dato Kvirkvelia as a second-half substitute, but neither he nor goalscorer Jaba Dvali could give Dinamo parity a second time. Chichveishvili is supended on Thursday, though Levan Melkadze, who missed the game with a minor niggle, is expected to return for the trip to England as the Georgian side attempt to recover from their 2-0 defeat by FC Sochaux-Montbéliard on Matchday 1.
Sporting recorded a 3-0 win at struggling FC Penafiel with three second-half goals. The side lying fourth in the Portuguese SuperLiga were without Beto, Rodrigo Tello and Tinga, all of whom are expected to return for the visit of Panionios NFC on Thursday. Striker Liedson was again on target this weekend, claiming his seventh and eighth goals of the season either side of Custódio's strike. Romanian forward Marius Niculae is sidelined with a foot injury and Hugo is suspended for Sporting's opening match in Group D.
Their Matchday 2 opponents Panionios had a far less auspicious warm-up, losing 4-0 at Greek champions Panathinaikos FC on Saturday. The defeat - their fourth in six league games - saw them drop to 13th but they will hope to welcome back Saša Zimonjic on Thursday, for the first time since the Serbo-Montenegrin was injured against Newcastle on Matchday 1. Goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobný is also doubtful for the trip to Portugal.
Sochaux will sit out Matchday 2 after they celebrated their 2000th game in Ligue 1 - a French record - with a 2-0 win against Toulouse FC on Saturday. Midfield player Romain Pitau was at the centre of things for Sochaux, and set up Jérémy Mathieu and Ilan's goals with his corner-kicks as Sochaux climbed into sixth place. Jaouad Zairi, Lionel Potillon and Sylvain Monsoreau all missed the game through injury, though they should return for Matchday 3 when coach Guy Lacombe's side face Newcastle at the Bonal stadium. Marcelo Trapasso is a long-term absentee, however, and the midfield player's knee injury is likely to keep him out until the beginning of 2005.
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