West Ham and Trabzonspor just about eked out victories against modest visitors, while PAOK foundered in Zagreb; UEFA.com filters through Thursday's first-leg action.
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Differdange and Birkirkara stood up to two of the highest-rated sides in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, with Lokomotiva Zagreb getting the better of group stage regulars PAOK.
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Trabzonspor (TUR) 1-0 Differdange (LUX)
Shota Arveladze's first game in charge of the club where he shone as a player in the 1990s was perhaps not the outright triumph the Georgian might have hoped for. Mehmet Ekici got the only goal, direct from a free-kick on 44 minutes, but the Luxembourgers put on a good show and the Turkish side should be aware of their penchant for late goals as they head west for the second leg.
West Ham United (ENG) 1-0 Birkirkara (MLT)
Slaven Bilić's team were spared an embarrassment in front of a crowd of 33,000 in the new manager's first home match at the helm, James Tomkins chesting in following a corner, with Birkirkara having held the Premier League club at bay for 90 minutes. "That is football," said visiting coach Giovanni Tedesco. "You can concede a goal in the first minute or one in the 90th. I am proud of my team for showing great courage and playing very well." Kudos too to Romanian tiddlers Botoşani who kept Legia Waszawa in check for 79 minutes, eventually losing 1-0.
Apollon Limassol (CYP) 4-0 Trakai (LTU)
Group stage contenders for the last two seasons, Apollon seem determined to sail through the qualifying phase in style; in the last round, Fotis Papoulis concluded a 4-0 aggregate sucess against Saxan of Moldova with a stylish overhead kick. This time, Brazilian Farley produced a similarly acrobatic finish to make it 4-0 against Trakai.
Lokomotiva Zagreb (CRO) 2-1 PAOK (GRE)
Róbert Mak struck late to spare PAOK's blushes as their meeting with modest Lokomotiva threatened to get out of hand. The Greek side have played in the last two UEFA Europa League group stages, yet trailed 2-0 at half-time, 20-year-old Marko Kolar putting Lokomotiva in front before delivering the corner from which Franko Andrijašević scored the Croatian team's second.
AIK Solna (SWE) 2-0 FC Shirak (ARM)
The Armenian outfit recorded the wrong kind of treble in Sweden, but managed to escape with a 2-0 defeat despite ending the game with eight men. Vsevolod Ermakov saved a first-half penalty before the hosts took a 1-0 advantage, yet coach Andreas Alm may wonder how AIK failed to add more than one more after Arman Hovhannisyan, Gor Malakyan and substitute Andranik Barikyan were all sent off in the closing minutes.
Koper (SVN) 3-2 Hajduk Split (CRO)
The Slovenian side got the better of an action-packed Dalmatian Coast derby. Denis Halilović and surprise starter Amar Rahmanović headed Koper into a 2-0 lead from corners, then Rahmanović linked up with Domen Črnigoj to make it 3-1 following a great counterattack before the break. Hajduk rallied, Zoran Nižić's late goal – also following a corner – giving them something to play for next week.
FC København (DEN) 2-0 Newtown (WAL)
The Welsh part-timers can be proud of their showing in Copenhagen, their nerve holding after Benjamin Verbič headed the Danes in front on three minutes. David Jones made a string of great saves to frustrate the group stage regulars, so there was a certain sense of relief for FCK when Kasper Kusk made it 2-0 in the second half.