It proved a busy weekend for many of the 20 teams in UEFA Champions League play-off round action this week, and while Arsenal FC's 6-1 win at Everton FC was perhaps the most eye-catching result, it was by no means the biggest victory recorded by a group-stage aspirant.
That honour belonged to FC Salzburg, 7-1 winners at SK Vorwärts Steyr, ahead of Wednesday's first-leg meeting with Maccabi Haifa FC, who drew 1-1 at Hapoel Petah-Tikva FC in the Israeli League Cup. Confidence ought to be in plentiful supply at Celtic Park on Tuesday as well, and not simply in the Arsenal camp. Celtic FC kicked off their own domestic campaign with a 3-1 triumph at Aberdeen FC and will be keen to give new manager Tony Mowbray a third consecutive success in competitive matches.
There were also wins for Olympique Lyonnais and RSC Anderlecht, who lock horns at the Stade Gerland on Wednesday. Lyon collected their first success of the new Ligue 1 season, seeing off Valenciennes FC 1-0, while their Belgian opponents strolled to a comfortable 3-0 home win over KVC Westerlo. FC København were the only losers over the weekend, suffering a 1-0 home loss to early Superliga leaders AGF Århus.
|Celtic FC v Arsenal FC|
|Aberdeen FC 1-3 Celtic FC|
(Aluko 61; McGeady 29 42, McDonald 44)
Tony Mowbray: "Particularly in the first half, with our domination, we should have given ourselves a bigger advantage. Then in the second half we allowed Aberdeen to score a goal. I'm not 100 per cent happy but obviously delighted to get a win away from home. This is a difficult place to come. We've got things to work on."
|Everton FC 1-6 Arsenal FC|
(Saha 90; Denilson 26, Vermaelen 37, Gallas 41, Fàbregas 48 70, Eduardo 89)
Arsène Wenger: "You have to accept that one game is only one game, what is important is that we have the desire and believe in our qualities. Everybody in our team can score goals and everybody likes to go forward so when things go for us like today, anyone can score. The Champions League is a big game for us and we know we need a positive performance."
|FC Timişoara v VfB Stuttgart|
|FC Timişoara 1-0 FC Rapid Bucureşti|
Ioan Ovidiu Sabău: "We had a lot of possession, we played well and we managed to win a very important match against a tough opponent. We are working hard and we want to offer to our fans the same reasons to be happy as we gave them today. We believe in our chance, we think positively and we will prepare for Stuttgart in the best possible way."
|VfB Stuttgart 4-2 SC Freiburg|
(Pogrebnyak 53, Elson 65 (pen) 76, Schieber 88; Idrissou 70 85)
Markus Babbel: "The game was just as difficult as we expected it to be. I saw Freiburg play against Hamburg last Sunday so I knew what they were capable of. They worked very hard off the ball and prevented us from creating chances. The game became more open in the second half after we'd taken the lead, but unfortunately we weren't able to tie up the three points a bit earlier. That said, I have to compliment my team for the way they battled on in such high temperatures. I think we deserved the win on the whole."
|Sporting Clube de Portugal v ACF Fiorentina|
|CD Nacional 1-1 Sporting Clube de Portugal|
(João Aurélio 27; João Aurélio og 75)
Carlos Pereira, Sporting assistant coach: "It's always very difficult to play here. However, if there was to be a winner it would have been Sporting. We responded well after conceding and we went searching for victory; only bad luck prevented us from doing so. To get a point here is always something positive and there's still a lot to play for in the league. Now we'll focus our attention on the match against Fiorentina."
|ACF Fiorentina 1-0 AS Figline (friendly)|
(Alberto Gilardino 22)
Cesare Prandelli: "I'm quite satisfied by the way the team played this evening. My players did a good job on the pitch, and Cristiano Zanetti is becoming part of the group. The starting XI for the match in Lisbon isn't decided yet. Adrian Mutu is recovering from a four-month break and every minute he spends on the field helps his condition."
|FC Sheriff v Olympiacos FC|
|FC Sheriff (No domestic game)|
Leonid Koutchouk: "We will not only be playing in the domestic league as usual this autumn but also in European competition. That's why we have bought several players. In addition, Vladimir Volkov, Constantin Arbănaş and Aleksandr Erokhin have recovered from injuries. The [third qualifying round] games against Slavia Praha revealed several problems in our play, so we have things to work on before the encounters against Olympiacos FC."
|Olympiacos FC (No domestic game)|
Temuri Ketsbaia: "Sheriff have a standard style of play and are patient, waiting for their opponents to make an error they can take advantage of. We must be careful to avoid mistakes, especially in defence. They have a good side, but if we play to our abilities we can progress to the group stage, which is our main goal at this stage of the season."
|FC København v APOEL FC|
|FC København 0-1 AGF Århus|
Ståle Solbakken: "Our players seem to have been suffering from a lack of energy lately, and of course it is a bit early in the season to suffer from that. But in the majority of our league matches so far, we have had to chase the game. There's no doubt that if we want to reach the Champions League group stage, we will have to approach the play-off games against Apoel Nicosia with more energy and confidence."
|APOEL FC (no competitive fixture)|
|PFC Levski Sofia v Debreceni VSC|
|PFC Minior Pernik 0-2 PFC Levski Sofia|
(Yovov 79, Ortega 84)
Ratko Dostanić: "I think we deserved the win and the three points. It was a very difficult and important game for us. We were patient, we waited for our chances and we scored our goals. Now we are looking forward to the game against Debrecen. We know it will be a very tough match but we are not afraid."
|Debreceni VSC 2-1 Haladás FC|
(Leandro 2, Czvitkovics 64; Ugrai 75)
András Herczeg: "We played good football against Haladás with good rhythm and a good mentality. We dominated and we got a lot of possession in their half so we managed to keep up the pressure. I was also happy with the two new signings, László Bodnár and Luis Ramos."
|Olympique Lyonnais v RSC Anderlecht|
|Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 Valenciennes FC|
Claude Puel: "We're relieved because we failed to make early inroads. The result could have been much bigger but instead we struggled until the end which is a pity because, except for finishing the job earlier, we played well. We will have to work on this. We'll now recover and prepare very seriously for Anderlecht, who are a very athletic and aggressive team. With the return leg being away it won't be a piece of cake, believe me. We have never been complacent."
|RSC Anderlecht 3-0 KVC Westerlo|
(Van Damme 28, Suarez 44, Boussoufa 73)
Ariël Jacobs: "I think every coach coach would settle for a 2-0 lead at half-time. After the third goal I had the opportunity to rest people like Van Damme and Boussoufa, not only with an eye on Lyon on Wednesday but also for the upcoming weeks. Lyon away will be different to playing at home against Westerlo."
|FC Salzburg v Maccabi Haifa FC|
|SK Vorwärts Steyr 1-7 FC Salzburg (Austrian Cup)|
(Vogel 90; Rakić 3 12 14 75, Nelisse 47 67, Sekagya 52)
Huub Stevens: "We did exactly what we set out to do. We pressurised them right from the start, got the early goal and went on to record a comfortable win. What's also good see in light of the big game on Wednesday is that we didn't pick up any injuries."
|Hapoel Petah-Tikva FC 1-1 Maccabi Haifa FC (Israeli League Cup)|
Shlomi Arbeitman, Haifa striker: "It's not the result we wanted but I am sure whoever plays on Wednesday will do the job to the best of their ability. I am certain we will be a lot more focused on Wednesday."
|FK Ventspils v FC Zürich|
|FK Jūrmala 0-4 FK Ventspils |
(Ndeki 15, Špakovs 38, Žigajevs 86, Rimkus 90)
Nunzio Zavettieri: "I have only worked with the team for a couple of days so do not expect a miraculous change. Most of the credit for this victory goes to Ventspils' previous head coach Roman Grygorchuk. Anyway, I am thankful to the players – we scored good goals and now we can focus on the Zürich game and think of nothing else."
|FC Sion 3-3 FC Zürich|
(Marin 8, Obradović 42, Domínguez 55(pen); Margairaz 39, Tihinen 70, Vonlanthen 88(pen))
Bernard Challandes: "Ventspils beat the champion of Belarus [FC BATE Borisov, in the third qualifying round]. Added to that, they have some Latvian internationals who are very experienced in important games. I don't know much about them, but certainly they're opponents we're on a par with."
|Panathinaikos FC v Club Atlético de Madrid|
|Panathinaikos FC (No domestic game)|
Henk ten Cate: "Atlético de Madrid have excellent players and I'm not only referring to Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlán. Our goal is to survive two very demanding ties, in Athens and in Madrid. We want to succeed and we will do our best to progress to the group stage. We have a steady group of players and the ability to respond to this challenge. Perhaps we know more about Atlético than they know about us. That could prove a slight advantage for us, but we have to prove that on the pitch."
|Club Atlético de Madrid (No domestic game)|
Abel Resino: "The team is arriving at the play-off round in good stead after what has been a particularly tough pre-season campaign, during which we played against quality teams."
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