Alan Shearer was typically among the goalscorers as Newcastle United FC and Gençlerbirligi SK both secured crucial wins in their bids to lift the UEFA Cup for the first time.
Celtic FC, Villarreal CF and FC Girondins de Bordeaux also picked up home victories on a night of fourth round, first-leg ties, each beginning after a minute's silence was observed as a mark of respect for the victims of the bomb attacks in Madrid on Thursday morning.
Having had a week off since winning through to this stage, Newcastle showed the benefit of the rest at home against RCD Mallorca. The goalless first half saw little action, but that all changed after the break. Fernando Correa gave Mallorca a 58th-minute lead, but within 16 minutes, Craig Bellamy, Shearer and Laurent Robert had scored to turn the game. Then after Edu Moya was dismissed for the visitors, Titus Bramble volleyed in to put Newcastle 4-1 up ahead of the return, which like all the second legs is on 25 March.
Gençlerbirligi run continues
Blackburn Rovers FC, Sporting Clube de Portugal and Parma AC have already had their UEFA Cup campaigns ended by Turkey's Gençlerbirligi, and Valencia CF could be next on their list after a 1-0 defeat tonight. Filip Daems converted a 12th-minute penalty to put the Ankara side ahead, and last season's UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists, without several key players including playmaker Pablo Aimar, could not fashion a reply.
Three off at Celtic
In one of three fixtures involving a pair of former European champions, Celtic ended 1-0 to the good against FC Barcelona in a match containing three red cards. The first two were during half-time after an altercation between Celtic goalkeeper Robert Douglas and the visitors' Thiago Motta, and not long after Barcelona forward Javier Saviola was also dismissed, Alan Thompson volleyed in the only goal.
Villarreal and Bordeaux will both hold two-goal leads in a fortnight's time. AS Roma lost 2-0 at Villarreal, Sonny Anderson and José Mari scoring in a six-minute spell midway through the first-half for the sole UEFA Intertoto Cup holders still in the competition.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux beat Club Brugge KV 3-1. Gert Verheyen gave the Belgian champions the lead just before the hour, but Brugge, one of five Champions League group stage exiles still in the UEFA Cup along with Celtic, Olympique de Marseille, FC Internazionale and PSV Eindhoven, soon saw their lead cancelled out by Albert Celades. The same player, on loan from Real Madrid CF, put Bordeaux ahead on 78 minutes and the winning margin was stretched by Albert Riera.
Marseille hold Liverpool
Liverpool seemed also to be heading for home victory against Marseille after Milan Baroš put them ahead on 58 minutes. But with only eleven minutes left Didier Drogba, who scored five Champions League goals this season, took his UEFA Cup tally to two with an equaliser on his 25th birthday.
Toldo denies Benfica
In another draw involving two former European Champions Clubs' Cup winners, FC Internazionale held SL Benfica to a goalless draw at UEFA EURO 2004™ final venue, the Estádio da Luz. Visiting goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, so important in helping Inter to the Champions League semi-finals last season, was again the key to his side keeping a clean sheet.
Lucius levels for PSV
PSV came away from AJ Auxerre with an away goal in a 1-1 draw. Teemu Tainio had given Auxerre the edge 36 minutes, but after the break Theo Lucius headed PSV level to end Auxerre's competition record run of six consecutive clean sheets.
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