German sides led the way into the inaugural UEFA Cup group stage as FC Schalke 04, VfB Suttgart and TSV Alemannia Aachen all made the most of significant first round first-leg leads tonight.
Schalke, in the competition for the second year running as UEFA Intertoto Cup winners, beat FHK Liepajas Metalurgs
5-1 a fortnight ago and in the return in Latvia secured a similarly comfortable 4-0 victory. Metalurgs defeated visitors FK Auda 10-1 in their last league game, but conceded an Ebbe Sand goal just before half-time this evening. Mike Hanke then replaced Sand, and scored on 69, 75 and 90 minutes to confirm his side's place in Tuesday's draw.
Stuttgart also triumphed 4-0, adding to a 3-1 advantage as they saw off Hungarian visitors Újpesti TE. Andreas Hinkel put Suttgart into a 14th-minute lead and Cacau struck twice in a five-minute period around the hour mark, Horst Heldt having made it 3-0 seconds after the Brazilian's first. Last season's German Cup runners-up Aachen were held 0-0 at home by FH Hafnarfjördur, but the 2. Bundesliga side had already won 5-1 in Iceland in their first-ever European encounter.
FC Sochaux-Montbéliard and SC Heerenveen went one better than Schalke and Stuttgart tonight, as they won their second legs 5-0. Sochaux were already 4-0 up when they travelled to Norway to play Stabæk IF, whose new coach Pål Berg saw his side fall to two goals from substitute Ilan and one each by Santos, Jaouad Zairi and Jérémy Mathieu.
Meanwhile Heerenveen were staging a one-off home tie with Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC after the first leg was cancelled, the Dutch side progressing thanks to Arnold Bruggink, Mika Väyrynen, Petter Hansson, Victor Sikora and substitute Stefan Selakovic. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, AZ Alkmaar also went through at home to PAOK FC despite conceding an early Dimitrios Salpingidis goal as Michael Buskermolen swiftly levelled the leg and Joris Mathijsen opened up a decisive 5-3 aggregate lead 19 minutes from time.
Israel's disappointing night was continued in Ukraine as Maccabi Haifa FC, defending a 1-0 lead, lost 2-0 to FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Dmytro Mykhaylenko levelled the aggregate score just after the half-hour mark and Andriy Rusol struck the winner 13 minutes from time.
A close affair also ensued in Turkey, where Ibrahim Üzülmez scored the only goal of the night on 45 minutes to give Besiktas JK a 2-1 aggregate success against Norway's FK Bodø/Glimt.
Goals rained in at SC Braga and SK Sigma Olomouc - but it was respective visitors Heart of Midlothian FC and Real Zaragoza that made the most of first-leg leads. Hearts had beaten Portugal's Braga 3-1 in Scotland, and drew 2-2 tonight thanks to two goals from striker Mark de Vries, who recovered from a foot injury to play. João Tomás had scored the first goal of the night and Jaime Júnior claimed a late consolation.
Zaragoza had a tougher task, as they saw a 1-0 advantage from two weeks ago turned into a 2-1 overall deficit in the Czech Republic by the 52-minute mark, David Kobylík's penalty adding to Martin Hudec's early effort. But with 12 minutes left Fernando Soriano put Zaragoza ahead on away goals, and soon after Hudec struck at the wrong end. Five minutes from time Javi Moreno completed a 4-2 aggregate win for the Spanish side.
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