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Larsson has last say in Europa League

Veteran striker Henrik Larsson struck a a last-gasp winner for Helsingborgs IF in a 2-1 victory at FC Zestafoni as the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round got under way across Europe.

Henrik Larsson struck late to give Helsingborg a 2-1 win at Zestafoni
Henrik Larsson struck late to give Helsingborg a 2-1 win at Zestafoni ©Getty Images

Veteran striker Henrik Larsson proved he can still turn games on the European stage with a last-gasp winner for Helsingborgs IF at FC Zestafoni, while elsewhere in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round first legs there was victory for FK Crvena Zvezda and a surprise home defeat for Brøndby IF.

Late impact
Now aged 37, Larsson struck twice in the previous round against Armenian club FC MIKA and the former UEFA Champions League winner with FC Barcelona took his European tally to 59 goals to give his side a precious 2-1 victory in Georgia. Team-mate Rasmus Jonsson had put the visitors ahead shortly after the hour mark, but substitute Aleks Benashvili restored parity 20 minutes from time for Zestafoni, leaving Larsson to have the final say with a minute to go.

Big guns
Former European Champions Clubs' Cup winners Crvena Zvezda also celebrated a win, though their 1-0 success at Slovenian rivals NK Rudar Velenje far from guarantees them progress when the two sides reconvene in Belgrade next Thursday. Slavko Perović registered the only goal of the game for the 1990/91 European champions after 59 minutes. As for their 1985/86 counterparts, FC Steaua Bucureşti, they got their campaign started with a 2-0 home triumph over Hungarian contenders Újpest FC.

Minor upsets
Elsewhere, some of the continent's more venerable outfits had less to cheer, not least Brøndby IF, the first Danish side to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage in 1995/96. They succumbed 1-0 at home against Estonian side FC Flora, while last season's UEFA Champions League representatives from Denmark, Aalborg BK, could only draw 0-0 with FK Slavija Sarajevo. That was also the scoreline between Norwegian heavyweights Rosenborg BK and Azerbaijani outfit FK Qarabağ, leaving the Trondheim side in real danger of an early exit. For their part, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup winners Galatasaray AŞ required a Milan Baroš equaliser to salvage a 1-1 stalemate at Kazakh rivals FC Tobol Kostanay.

Explosive hat-trick
NAC Breda experienced no such problems and posted the performance of the evening, seeing off Armenian hopefuls FC Gandzasar Kapan 6-0. They were joined in recording big wins by SK Rapid Wien, who overcame visitors KS Vllaznia 5-0, and a trio of teams who triumphed 4-0: AC Omonia defeating HB Tórshavn, Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC overcoming FC Dinaburg and NK Slaven Koprivnica emerging victorious at FK Milano. Slaven's win came courtesy of the undisputed individual display of the night as Aljoša Vojnović plundered a five-minute hat-trick between the 39th and 44th minutes. A full set of all the night's results can be seen by clicking here.