Group G: Matchday 3 opponents VfB Stuttgart and PAOK FC were both restricted to draws at the weekend, while the section's other sides won.
Kallithea FC 1-1 PAOK FC
PAOK lost further ground in the Alpha Ethniki after they were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by bottom side Kallithea in Athens on Sunday. The visitors went ahead midway through the first half with a long-range strike from Sikabala, but Kallithea came into the game after the interval and were eventually undone by a header from former player Georgios Koulakiotis. PAOK's disappointment was complete when substitute Amir Azmy Megahed was dismissed after a skirmish with Kallithea's Jean-Marie Sylla in added time.
PAOK coach Georgios Kostikos was without injured duo Pantelis Konstantinidis and Panayiotis Engomitis, while Turkish defender Fatih Akyel was unavailable after returning late from international duty. "We changed our mentality in the second half," said Kostikos. "We stopped pressuring and pursuing the goal. I cannot explain this attitude."
VfB Stuttgart 2-2 Hannover 96
Two goals from Jon Dahl Tomasson were not enough for Stuttgart to take all three points on Sunday as they could only draw at home to Hannover 96. The Danish international twice gave Stuttgart the lead but both strikes were cancelled out by Vahid Hashemian and Chavdar Yankov. Coach Giovanni Trapattoni was without a trio of players for the game - Daniel Bierofka (ankle), Boris Živković and Horst Heldt (both flu) – while during the game Jesper Grønkjær (thigh) and Matthieu Delpierre (concussion) were forced off.
Trapattoni said: "We lack concentration at times. It is the second time this season that we have conceded only seconds after scoring ourselves. Nonetheless I saw an improvement today, especially when we were attacking. I am not pleased with the result because we should have won but I am happy with the way the team has developed in recent months".
FC Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 FC Volyn Lutsk
Shakhtar continued to put pressure on Ukrainian Premier League leaders FC Dynamo Kyiv on Sunday with a 2-0 win against Volyn. The home victory, thanks to goals on three minutes by Oleksiy Bielyk and a strike just before half-time from Brazilian midfielder Matuzalem, left Shakhtar just one point behind Dynamo Kyiv in the standings. The team's Romanian coach, Mircea Lucescu, decided to rest Mariusz Lewandowski for the game, replacing the centre-back with Tomáš Hübschman, while Bielyk was preferred to Andriy Vorobei in attack.
"We played a good match and our opponents never threatened another outcome," said Lucescu, who revealed that midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk is doubtful for Thursday after sustaining a facial injury, while "Brandão, Tolga [Seyhan] and Ciprian Marica could be out until end of the season. We did not manage to catch Dynamo in this round, but now we need to focus on the UEFA Cup. On Thursday, we're facing a decisive match. First of all, the win guarantees us qualification and European football in the spring. Secondly, we host Rapid, who are coached by my son. This will be a crunch game for us".
AFC Rapid Bucuresti 1-0 CFR Cluj
Rapid followed up their 2-1 win at FC Gloria 1922 Bistrita before the international break with an important 1-0 victory at home to Cluj on Saturday, leapfrogging their opponents in the process. Daniel Niculae scored the only goal, on 21 minutes, of a match which was played behind closed doors after crowd trouble during Rapid's previous home match, against FC Steaua Bucuresti. The win moved Rapid up into fifth in Divizia A and delighted club president Dinu Gheorghe. He said: "It was excellent preparation ahead the difficult match against [FC] Shahktar Donetsk. Luckily, it was also a good match, despite the fact that it was played behind closed doors".
Rapid had three players who played a part in the Romanian national team's two friendlies during the international break. Goalkeeper Danut Coman made his debut against Nigeria, while defender Valentin Badoi and striker Niculae also featured. Niculae scored his first international goal in the 3-0 win against the Nigerians in Bucharest.
Stade Rennais FC 4-1 Toulouse FC
Rennes climbed to eighth in Ligue 1 after a comprehensive victory against Toulouse on Sunday. The team from Brittany claimed the victory thanks to goals from Yoann Gourcuff (26 minutes), Abdeslam Ouaddou (49), Alexander Frei (56) and an Olivier Monterrubio penalty in the last minute. Pleased Rennes coach Bölöni said: "I feel satisfied although we scored our 15th goal from a set-piece. We were the better team during the whole game."
Rennes were given another boost with the return of Swede Kim Källström and Moroccan Youssouf Hadji from injury at the weekend. Full-back Jean-Joël Perrier Doumbé is also close to making a comeback, although captain Cyril Jeunechamp (knee) and goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson (thigh) remain long-term casualties.