AEK Athens FC led the way on a good night for Greek sides as they, Panionios NFC and second division Larissa FC all claimed first-leg victories.
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FC Spartak Moskva 5-0 BK Häcken
Spartak took a giant step towards the group stage after easing past Swedish second division side Häcken in the Russian capital. The hosts quickly asserted themselves with striker Roman Pavlyuchenko registering a hat-trick inside 19 minutes - his third an audacious back-heel that deceived Häcken goalkeeper Alexander Hysen. If Hysen had been at fault there, he made amends by denying Pavlyuchenko and Vladimir Bystrov with fine saves, but there was no stopping Spartak who wrapped up a convincing win with second-half goals from Welliton and Yegor Titov.
Hammarby 2-1 SC Braga
Petter Andersson was the hero, scoring twice as Hammarby shocked their Portuguese visitors at the Råsunda Stadium. The 22-year-old forward broke the deadlock against the run of play with his first goal in two months four minutes after the restart only for Roland Linz to equalise before the hour. But Andersson quickly restored the lead (65) as the Swedish side eked out a slender advantage to take into the second leg.
Larissa FC 2-0 Blackburn Rovers FC
Larissa marked their return to European competition after a 19-year absence with a comfortable victory against Blackburn before 13,000 fans at the Panthessaliko Stadium in Volos. The Greek side, coached by former Rovers midfielder Georgios Donis, took the lead on 33 minutes thanks to Ibrahima Bakayoko's powerful long-range strike and, within 60 seconds, were two up as Cleyton finished with his left foot. Goalkeeper Brad Friedel had saved Nektarios Alexandrou's shot but Georgios Fotakis was first to the rebound and he teed up Cleyton to score.
FK Mladá Boleslav 0-1 US Città di Palermo
Boško Jankovič's last-minute goal gave Palermo a slender advantage from their first leg with Mladá Boleslav in the Czech Republic. The game looked destined to finish goalless before the Serbian midfielder turned home Cristian Zaccardo's cross. Until then Palermo, who were without rested strikers Fabrizio Miccoli and Amauri, appeared subdued and nearly fell behind on 49 minutes only for goalkeeper Federico Agliardi to deny Ivo Táborský. The hosts failed to turn their territorial advantage into goals and must now win in Sicily to progress.
NK Dinamo Zagreb 0-1 AFC Ajax
Dennis Rommedahl chose an opportune moment to score his first goal for Ajax as Henk ten Cate's team earned an impressive 1-0 victory in Croatia. The Danish international joined the Dutch side from Charlton Athletic FC in the summer, and struck in what was his fifth appearance for the team just after the hour.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-1 UD Leira
Stefan Kiessling scored twice as Leverkusen ran out convincing winners against their Portuguese visitors. Kiessling broke the deadlock after being put through by Simon Rolfes on 19 minutes and, although Leiria equalised through João Paulo just before the half-hour, Rolfes restored the hosts' lead two minutes later with a fine header following a free-kick. Kiessling connected with another set-piece 12 minutes from time to make it 3-1 before Vratislav Greško (80) and Leiria's Faria (87) were both dismissed for second bookable offences.
FC Zenit St. Petersburg 3-0 R. Standard de Liège
Andrei Arshavin scored twice as Zenit recorded a fine victory at a sodden Petrovsky Stadium. After a slow start the hosts took the lead just shy of the half-hour mark with Arshavin firing in from 25 metres after a quick counterattack. Standard had coach Michel Preud'homme sent off before half-time but nearly levelled after the restart with Dieudonné Mbokani Bezua's effort being cleared off the line. Arshavin doubled the advantage after collecting a pass from Konstantin Zyrianov and Kim Dong Jin completed the scoring four minutes from time.
Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski 0-1 FK Crvena Zvezda
Dušan Basta was on target as the Serbian visitors earned a hard-fought advantage to take back to the return in Belgrade in a fortnight. The 23-year-old struck on 19 minutes and there proved no way back for Groclin, whose lack of potency in front of goal in recent weeks – they have scored only five in their last five league outings – showed again.
SK Brann 0-1 Club Brugge KV
Brann were left to rue missed opportunities as François Sterchele's late strike earned Club Brugge a valuable 1-0 win in Norway. The Belgian international made a strong impression after coming off the bench, striking the Brann crossbar on 82 minutes before heading in a left-wing cross three minutes from time. It was harsh on the home side who had dominated for long periods but failed to find an end product to go with their good approach work.
FC Sochaux-Montbéliard 0-2 Panionios NFC
The struggling Ligue 1 side, who have yet to win this season, continued their poor start to the campaign with a defeat to the side sitting ninth in the Greek top-flight. Panionios's first goal came from Algerian AJ Auxerre academy product Rafik Djebbour with a strike that deflected past goalkeeper Teddy Richert. While Sochaux tried to level, Dario Fernandez doubled the margin just before the hour mark, scoring from a corner kick. The result was especially sweet for Panionios, having lost at Sochaux in the UEFA Cup group stage in December 2005.
AEK Athens FC 3-0 FC Salzburg
AEK have one foot in the group stage after overwhelming ten-man Salzburg in the Greek capital. Geraldo set them on course as early as the third minute when he headed in Rivaldo's corner, and provider turned scorer just before the hour as Rivaldo applied a stunning finish after an excellent exchange between Nikolaos Lyberopoulos and Dániel Tőzsér. Salzburg had substitute Jorge Vargas dismissed with 19 minutes remaining and Panagiotis Kone (82) compounded their misery.