Hapoel Bnei Sakhnin FC, the first Arab side to play in the UEFA Cup, made a dream debut with a 3-0 victory against Albania's KS Partizani, but Israel's other entrants found life tougher as the second qualifying round first legs concluded.
Sakhnin, holders of the Israeli Cup, had to play their home leg in Tel-Aviv due to security regulations, but were ahead within 15 minutes through captain Abbass Sowan's low free-kick. In the hot conditions, Dutch referee Dick van Egmond ordered a drinks break on the half-hour, and within three minutes a refreshed Agoye Olumide picked up a loose ball, beat two defenders and slotted his shot into the bottom corner.
The home side continued to dominate, and early in the second half Olumide headed in Adham Hamudh's corner. Seven minutes from the end Partizani's troubles were compounded when Henri Ndreka was shown the red card for spitting. Nidal Shalaata cleared a late Partizani effort off the line to keep Sakhnin in command for the return in Tirana, like all the second legs on 26 August.
However, Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC went down by the same score in Cyprus to AEK Larnaca FC courtesy of a first-half Dragan Isailovic hat-trick. Omer Golan almost gave the visitors a fourth-minute lead as his shot hit the post, and soon after Avraham Tikva shot narrowly wide. But on 17 minutes Constantinos Mina's deep cross was met by Isailovic, who looped his header in between two defenders.
AEK were further ahead in the 32nd minute as a long drop-kick from goalkeeper Nikos Panayiotou dropped into the opposite box and Isailovic half-volleyed in. Just before the break Zoran Milosevic found his Serbo-Montenegrin compatriot with a clever back-heel, and the treble was completed. The second half saw three reds cards as Adham Hadia was dismissed soon after coming on for a foul on Mina before AEK replacement Christos Velis seeing a red card for a stray elbow and then Milosevic followed him off for a late challenge on Morad Magamadov.
Turkey's Gençlerbirligi SK, who reached the fourth round last season, gained a 1-0 home win against HNK Rijeka of Croatia. Mehmet Nas scored the only goal of the game just before half-time when he struck a powerful shot from the right angle having received Ümit Bozkurt's through-ball, but despite their dominance Gençlerbirligi could not score again.
Iceland's mixed fortunes
Dunfermline AFC came from two behind to draw 2-2 in Iceland with FH Hafnarfjördur, goals from Sverrir Gardarsson and Allan Borgvardt pegged back by veteran striker Craig Brewster and Andrius Skerla late on. Hafnarfjördur's domestic rivals ÍA Akranes fell 2-0 in Sweden to Hammarby, Björn Runström and Alexander Östlund on target.
Two penalties were enough for Norway's FK Bodø/Glimt to beat Estonian side FC Levadia Tallinn 2-1. Stig Johansen's second-minute kick was cancelled out quickly by Vladimir Voskobolnikov but Runar Berg's effort 12 minutes from time was not answered by the visitors.
Lithuania's FK Žalgiris Vilnius were beaten 3-1 at home by Aalborg BK from Denmark, while Austrian side FC Rapid Wien lost 2-0 to their Russian visitors FC Rubin Kazan, making their European debut. Polish team KS Amica Wronki did win at home, Pawel Kryszalowicz's goal edging out Budapest Honvéd FC 1-0.
Elsewhere, there were victories for SK Slavia Praha, FC Terek Grozny, IF Elfsborg, KSK Beveren, NK Dinamo Zagreb and Újpesti TE with a 0-0 draw between FC Otelul Galati and FK Partizan. Full reports on those games can be found in the links under 'related news'.
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