Liverpool FC, winners of the UEFA Cup in 2001 and favourites to repeat that success after their UEFA Champions League exit, returned to form with a 1-0 first-leg victory at SBV Vitesse.
The English side, one of eight third-placed finishers from the Champions League first group stage, secured their win with a Michael Owen strike. It was in contrast to the other third-round entrants from European football's premier competition who found the going more arduous.
FC Dynamo Kyiv crashed to a 3-1 defeat at Turkish league leaders Besiktas JK, Club Brugge KV lost 2-1 at home to VfB Stuttgart, while RC Lens leaked three goals away to FC Porto without reply. In addition Olympique Lyonnais were held to a goalless draw in Turkey by Denizlispor, while AJ Auxerre lost by a single goal at Real Betis Balompié.
AEK on top
In the meeting between two former Champions League combatants, it was AEK Athens FC who were celebrating after a 4-0 home victory over Israel's Maccabi Haifa FC - all the goals arriving in the first half. FC PAOK Thessaloniki made it a Greek double with a Giorgios Georgiados goal securing a 1-0 win against SK Slavia Praha.
Another impressive away win came in France where RSC Anderlecht scored early on and then in added time to secure a 2-0 success over FC Girondins de Bordeaux. Liverpool's result made it a good night for British interest with Celtic FC coming out on top against RC Celta de Vigo thanks to Henrik Larsson's sixth goal of the campaign. Leeds United AFC returned from a difficult-looking away trip to Malága CF clutching hope following a 0-0 draw.
Easy for Lazio
Italian Serie A club S.S.Lazio eased to a 3-1 defeat of SK Sturm Graz despite falling a goal behind to Charles Amoah's strike. Simone Inzaghi struck twice for the 1998 finalists following Enrico Chiesa's equaliser.
Belgium's Brugge appeared set for a narrow win over German side Stuttgart after Peter van der Heyden struck a 42nd-minute opener. But the complexion of the game changed 20 minutes from time after the home side had Birger Maertens sent off. Krassimir Balakov's equaliser arrived a minute later and Kevin Kuranyi scored a late winner.
Nice for Nouma
Dynamo Kyiv endured a miserable night in Istanbul. The Ukrainians went in front but three goals without further reply, the last a spectacular strike from Pascal Nouma, left them with plenty of work to do in the second leg.
A late equaliser from Emile Mpenza gave the 1997 winners FC Schalke 04 a valuable away goal in a 1-1 draw with Wisla Krákow. The Polish side, who knocked out Parma AC in the last round, had led through a Christian Poulsen own goal.
Finally, FC Slovan Liberec, quarter-finalists last year, had to rely on an 85th-minute penalty from Samuel Slovák to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Panathinaikos FC. The Greek side had twice led through Angelos Basinas and Emmanuel Olisadebe.
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