FK Partizan and Maccabi Tel-Aviv ensured disappointment in the UEFA Cup last night for Portugal's top two teams from last season while it was also a sorry night for Dutch hopes.
In all there were 42 first round first-leg matches played, following on from six ties on Tuesday. All the return legs are due to be played a week on Thursday, except for three which have been scheduled for a week on Tuesday.
Partizan downed Portugal's double winners with a 3-1 victory at the José Alvalade stadium, while Boavista FC, who finished league runners-up behind Sporting, were beaten 1-0 by Maccabi. The results meant more disappointment for Sporting and Boavista, after they were knocked out of the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round last month. It was left to FC Porto to restore some Portuguese pride with a 6-0 victory against KP Polonia Warszawa.
'Too many goals'
Rolão Preto, Sporting's assistant coach, said: "We have conceded too many goals in our last two games which is not like us as we showed against Internazionale [FC] when our defensive play was excellent, but clearly defeats cannot only be avoided by defending well - you also have to score goals which we have not done".
Elsewhere, Scottish champions Celtic were 8-1 winners against FK Suduva of Lithuania. The star man was Swedish striker Henrik Larsson, who hit a first-half hat-trick to set the home side on their way to a comfortable night. "People were talking about Henrik going through a barren spell but he's a top-class goalscorer and they will always create chances for themselves," manager Martin O'Neill said.
It was a miserable evening for Dutch football. FC Utrecht were beaten 4-1 away by Polish side Legia Warszawa, while SC Heerenveen were beaten 3-0 in Romania by FC National Bucuresti. With SBV Vitesse being held to a 1-1 draw at home on Tuesday by SK Rapid Wien, the prospect of the Netherlands having any representation in the second round look slim at present.
Germany and Italy enjoyed better fortunes with all their sides coming through their first legs unscathed, a welcome relief after the disappointments felt by most of their UEFA Champions League hopefuls earlier in the week.
German trio SV Werder Bremen, FC Schalke 04 and VfB Stuttgart all put themselves in strong positions. Bremen drew 2-2 at FC Metalurh Donetsk of the Ukraine. Danish international Ebbe Sand scored twice as Schalke won 4-1 at Belarussian side FC Gomel, while Stuttgart eased to a 4-1 home win against the Latvian contenders FK Ventspils.
Of the Italian sides, European debutants AC Chievo Verona drew 0-0 away at FK Crevna Zvezda, S.S. Lazio beat Greece's Xanthi FC 4-0 while Parma AC earned a creditable 1-1 draw at FC CSKA Moskva. Parma coach Claudio Prandelli said: "I am happy. I think the result in Parma will be much better".
Spanish clubs again made their superiority tell. Real Betis Balompié won 2-0 away against Moldovan side FC Zimbru Chisinau. Deportivo Alaves also made a good start with a 2-1 away win in Turkey against MKE Ankaragücü as did RC Celta de Vigo with a 2-0 win at home to Odense BK. The one exception were Málaga CF, who still earned a 0-0 draw against FK Zeljeznicar.
Other notable results saw Norwegian team Stabæk IF beat RSC Anderlecht 1-0 in Brussels, Swedish team AIK Solna battle back for a 3-3 draw with Fenerbahçe SK and English side Fulham FC win 1-0 at HNK Hadjuk Split. The latter victory for a team making their European bow left manager Jean Tigana delighted. "I'm very happy for the club and the fans," he said. "This is a big, very important result - but it's not finished yet and we have to be calm and win the second leg."
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