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Suárez hat-trick ensures searing start by Anderlecht

RSC Anderlecht 4-1 AEK Athens FC
A show of devastating attacking play typified by Matías Suárez's hat-trick ensured Ariël Jacobs' side enjoyed the perfect opening night.

Milan Jovanović (right) is congratulated after scoring Anderlecht's second
Milan Jovanović (right) is congratulated after scoring Anderlecht's second ©Getty Images

An electric first-half display was enough for RSC Anderlecht to open their Group L account in style.

Up against an AEK Athens FC side yet to start their domestic campaign, Anderlecht raced into a comfortable lead through Matías Suárez and Milan Jovanović. Though Leonardo trumped them both with the goal of the night soon after, Suárez swiftly added a scorcher of his own to ensure the Mauves et Blancs could enjoy a trouble-free second half. AEK's frustration was compounded by the 77th-minute dismissal of Kostas Manolas before Suárez completed his hat-trick to salt their wounds.

Suárez led from the front as Anderlecht went about proving their attacking menace remains intact despite Romelu Lukaku's summer departure. The hosts' No9 began by showing tremendous wherewithal to finish from the floor having raced on to Fernando's through ball only to be grounded under the pressure of a retreating defender.

Jovanović added a second just after the half-hour, finishing with a well-placed header after Dimitris Konstantopoulos's free-kick had left his defence back-pedalling.

Leonardo was firmly on the front foot nine minutes from half-time, however, halving AEK's arrears with a splendid effort which started in his own half, was punctuated by a searing run past two defenders and finished with a curled shot beyond Silvio Proto. Suárez soon responded in kind, though, cutting in from the left and unleashing a fierce shot past Konstantopoulos to restore his team's two-goal cushion.

Two would have been three seven minutes into the second half had Fernando, profiting from Jovanović's neat lay-off, returned the favour rather than shooting tamely at Konstantopoulos. Already further deflated by Manolas's red card, AEK found their misery complete when Sacha Kljestan pounced on loose play by the visitors deep inside their own half and played in Suárez, who checked back inside and finished with aplomb.

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