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Trio triumph on domestic duty

Group G: AFC Rapid Bucuresti, Stade Rennais FC and FC Shakhtar Donetsk all enjoyed weekend wins as VfB Stuttgart snatched a late point.

AFC Rapid Bucuresti, Stade Rennais FC and FC Shakhtar Donetsk all enjoyed the perfect preparation for Thursday's games in UEFA Group G by winning their weekend fixtures. VfB Stuttgart snatched a late point while the only side in the section to lose, PAOK FC, are not in action on Matchday 2.

FC Farul Constanta 1-2 AFC Rapid Bucuresti

Rapid collected their first victory in Constanta in four years as they triumphed 2-1 against Farul on Sunday to move into fourth place in the Romanian First Division. Mugurel Buga opened the scoring for the visitors with nine minutes on the clock before the lead was doubled seven minutes later through a Daniel Niculae header. Farul managed to reduce arrears in the second half but Rapid held on for their fourth successive league match without defeat.

Rapid coach Razvan Lucescu said: "It was a very tense match. Obviously I am glad that we won but it's premature to say that we are fighting for a trophy this season or that we will win anything. It was a victory for our morale - we're the only Romanian side still involved in the championship, Romanian Cup and UEFA Cup." Rapid moved closer to winning the domestic cup last Wednesday when they qualified for the quarter-finals with a 3-2 victory against second division FC Cetate Suceava.

Stade Rennais FC 2-1 FC Metz

Rennes continued their fine recent form with a 2-1 victory against Metz on Saturday, their third win in a row. Goals from Ligue 1's top scorer Alexander Frei and Nigerian John Utaka gave the Breton side three points to lift them to seventh in the standings. "It's the first time that has happened since I took charge," said coach Laszlo Bölöni of the winning streak. His team did not fare so well in the French League Cup last Wednesday, however, losing 1-0 at Ligue 2 side Montpellier HSC.

Swedish pair Kim Källström and Andreas Isaksson both only have slim chances of recovering from thigh injuries to face Rapid on Thursday. Full-back Jean- Joël Perrier Doumbé (ankle), midfielder Youssouf Hadji (thigh) and captain Cyril Jeunechamp (knee) are all definitely out.

VfB Stuttgart 3-3 Hertha BSC Berlin

Stuttgart were held at home by Hertha on Saturday three days after suffering a 3-2 defeat at 2. Bundesliga outfit FC Hansa Rostock in the German Cup second round. Stuttgart's reserve goalkeeper Dirk Heinen stepped up to face Hertha for his first Bundesliga game in four-and-a-half years because Timo Hildebrand had to pull out with a fever, and the 34-year-old looked rusty when Ellery Cairo gave Hertha the lead on eight minutes. Second-half goals from Danijel Ljuboja and Cacau turned the match in Stuttgart's favour, only for Nando Rafael to equalise 60 seconds later. Marcelinho put the visitors in front again with 14 minutes remaining but Mario Gómez salvaged a point for Stuttgart eight minutes later.

Hildebrand aside, Stuttgart coach Giovanni Trapattoni also had to cope without the suspended Jon Dahl Tomasson and Daniel Bierofka, absent with a broken ankle. "We know that we must improve a lot of things," said the Italian coach. "At the moment we seem to need to suffer a blow before waking up. However I must compliment my team because we refused to give up today."

FC Chornomorets Odesa 0-1 FC Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar maintained their hold on the leadership of the Ukrainian Premier League with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at third-placed Chornomorets, Brandão scoring the only goal to head the scoring chart with ten. Coach Mircea Lucescu decided to select Dmytro Shutkov ahead of Jan Laštuvka in goal while Ciprian Marica was chosen to partner Brandão in attack. Midfielder Vyacheslav Shevchuk had to be substituted after picking up a knock but is still expected to feature in Thursday's match at Stuttgart.

"We had to play a very tough match and spend a lot of energy," said Lucescu. "I liked the way we moved and we could have had even more success in the second half. We will leave for Germany full of confidence. We are not afraid of anyone and we will make sure we remain leaders of our UEFA Cup group."

Panathinaikos FC 1-0 PAOK FC

A solitary goal by Evangelos Mantzios condemned PAOK to defeat at Panathinaikos on Sunday. The Thessaloniki-based side had a combination of poor finishing and several fine saves from goalkeeper Mario Galinović to blame for denying them a share of the points. The loss left them sixth in the table with 12 points from eight matches, and came just three days after they were knocked out of the Greek Cup by lower-division Agrotikos Asteras FC on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

Forward Marcin Mieciel, midfielder Parashevas Andralas and defender Amri Megahed all missed the Panathinaikos match through injury, while Yiasoumi Yiasoumis was omitted from the squad. Guy Armand Feutchine was substituted to prevent a recurrence of a knee injury. Coach Georgios Kostikos was understandably unhappy, saying: "I am not satisfied with the result because I believe that we deserved something more tonight. However, my players gave it all they had during the 90 minutes and showed that they can achieve more in the future."