Hat-trick heroes light up opening night

Three hat-tricks, a defeat for the holders and healthy wins for Bayer 04 Leverkusen, FC Metalist Kharkiv and Liverpool FC lit up the opening night of the UEFA Europa League group stage.

Serdar Tasci celebrates scoring for Stuttgart
Serdar Tasci celebrates scoring for Stuttgart ©Getty Images

Holders Club Atlético de Madrid kicked off their UEFA Europa League title defence with defeat at Aris Thessaloniki FC on a night when FC Metalist Kharkiv hit five and BV Borussia Dortmund won by the odd goal in seven.

Atlético may have started their group stage campaign with a loss, but they did so by only one goal against an Aris side now unbeaten in 40 years of UEFA competition home fixtures. Less durable on home soil were Debreceni VSC, who were routed 5-0 by Metalist having been reduced to ten men three minutes before half-time.

Patrick Helmes took the honour of the group phase's opening goal on his way to a hat-trick and a 4-0 victory for Bayer 04 Leverkusen against Rosenborg BK.  KKS Lech Poznań's Artjoms Rudņevs completed his own treble in added time to earn the Polish outfit an eye-catching 3-3 draw at Juventus, while Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored all three of FC Zenit St. Petersburg's goals in a 3-1 success at RSC Anderlecht.

There were also goals aplenty in Ukraine, where FC Karpaty Lviv fell to a 4-3 reverse against BV Borussia Dortmund despite being 3-2 to the good with three minutes remaining. Liverpool FC also struck four, conceding just once, in a comfortable Anfield triumph over FC Steaua Bucureşti. Sevilla FC, meanwhile, were beaten 1-0 at home by Paris Saint-Germain FC.

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