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Europa League rewards long-range efforts

Mammoth journeys ended in wins for FC Shakhter Karagandy and NK Široki Brijeg, while there was also first qualifying round joy for Aberdeen FC and seven goals for Tromsø IL.

No UEFA club tournament has quite the geographical sweep of the UEFA Europa League, with some of the longest journeys of Thursday's first qualifying round ties ending in away victories.

All tonight's results

The longest voyage of all ended in defeat for Albania's FK Kukësi, who went over 4,500km only to lose 1-0 at FC Kairat Almaty.

A 2,500km journey from their home in Kazakhstan to Gyumri in Armenia proved no problem for FC Shakhter Karagandy, who made the longest journey in UEFA club competition group stage history last season when they travelled 4,600km to take on AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa League. Towering Bosnian striker Mihret Topčagić put them in front on 71 minutes at FC Shirak, and Serhiy Maliy made it 2-0 before a Serge Déblé penalty gave Shirak something to take into the second leg.

Another 2,500km journey took NK Široki Brijeg to Azerbaijan, where two goals in the final 20 minutes from 36-year-old Brazilian Wagner earned a 2-0 win at Qäbälä FC. FC Astana's journey to FC Pyunik was a little less arduous (a mere 2,400km) but also ended in success, with coach Stanimir Stoilov – who led PFC Levski Sofia to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals in 2005/06 – overseeing a 4-1 triumph.

Dundalk beat Jeunesse Esch
Dundalk beat Jeunesse Esch©Ricardo Raminhos

Estonia's JK Nõmme Kalju had to travel 2,450km to visit Iceland's Fram Reykjavík, and came away with a 1-0 win. That was one of three UEFA Europa League ties that kicked off simultaneously inside a 10km radius, along with FH Hafnarfjördur's 3-0 against Glenavon FC, and Stjarnan's 4-0 success over Bangor City FC.

In a round where big names are generally a rarity, the only sides to have won a major European trophy had a mixed night. UEFA Cup winners in 1981/82 and 1986/87, IFK Göteborg had to settle for a 0-0 draw in Sweden, a fine result for Luxembourg's CS Fola Esch. Aberdeen FC – who won the 1982/83 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson – won 5-0 against FK Daugava Rīga.

Elsewhere, one-time UEFA Champions League regulars Rosenborg BK scored four without reply against Latvia's FK Jelgava in Trondheim.

Speed kings: Metalurg Skopje
Speed kings: Metalurg Skopje©Silvia Casals

The unusual array of teams involved at this stage can produce freakish results. Estonian amateurs FC Santos Tartu's commitment to Brazilian-style football was of little benefit as they lost 7-0 at home to Norway's Tromsø IL. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, NK Čelik Nikšić's 5-0 capitulation to NK Koper owed something to the first red card of this season's competition – the Slovenian side scored two of their goals after Čelik's Vasilije Jovović was sent off.

The fastest goal of the night was scored by FK Metalurg Skopje's Mile Krstev, three minutes into the Macedonian side's 3-0 success in Andorra against UE Santa Coloma.

Three first legs were played on Tuesday when Sliema Wanderers FC held Ferencvárosi TC 1-1, Dundalk FC won 2-0 at AS Jeunesse Esch and FK Shkëndija 79 beat visitors FC Zimbru Chisinau 2-1.

All the return legs are next Thursday except for Linfield FC v B36 Tórshavn, which takes place in Belfast two nights earlier, the Northern Irish side holding a 2-1 lead.