There were impressive home wins for Beşiktaş JK, AZ Alkmaar and RSC Anderlecht as the UEFA Europa League group stage got under way on Thursday.
Hugo Almeida struck twice in the opening half-hour for a Beşiktaş side that registered the biggest win on matchday one, a 5-1 success against Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC. That victory makes them the fledgling leaders in Group E, where FC Dynamo Kyiv struck late to rescue a point against debutants at this level Stoke City FC.
AZ defeated Malmö FF 4-1 and Anderlecht won by the same margin against AEK Athens FC, while Paris Saint-Germain FC ran out impressive 3-1 winners against FC Salzburg. Another team to make a statement of intent were FC Rubin Kazan, UEFA Champions League participants for the past two seasons. They won 3-0 at Shamrock Rovers FC, the first Irish side to compete in the group stage of a major UEFA club competition.
Winners in 2010, Club Atlético de Madrid overcame Celtic FC 2-0 while the runners-up in May, SC Braga, won 3-1 at English second division side Birmingham City FC thanks to two goals from Hélder Barbosa. Elsewhere, there were also away victories for Sporting Clube de Portugal, Athletic Club, FC Rapid Bucureşti and FC Metalist Kharkiv, while ten-man S.S. Lazio came from behind for a share of the spoils at home to FC Vaslui.
All the matchday one scores and reports.
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