First-leg Europa League wins for Reds, Inter, Bilbao
Wesley Sneijder scored for Inter
LONDON, England ● Beaten finalists last season, Athletic Bilbao began their 2012/13 Europa League campaign in victorious fashion as former continental champions Inter Milan and Liverpool also won.
Bilbao started with five of the XI who featured from the off in May’s all-Liga showpiece against Atletico Madrid in Bucharest, but it was a lesser-known face who grabbed the headlines. Ismael Lopez, 22, scored twice on his senior debut for the Basque club as Los Leones defeated NK Slaven Koprivnica 3-1 at home.
A trip to Croatia to face HNK Hajduk Split is not a task many sides would relish, but Inter left the Dalmatian coast impressive 3-0 winners. Wesley Sneijder rifled the Nerazzurri in front, a lead doubled just before halftime by Yuto Nagatomo’s bobbling effort. Philippe Coutinho completed the scoring in the second half.
Liverpool also prevailed on their travels, although the going was tougher than might have been expected as they overcame FC Gomel 1-0. Winger Stewart Downing hit just two goals in all competitions last season, but was the match-winner with a long-range strike in Brendan Rodgers’ first competitive fixture in charge of the Reds.
Champions League quarterfinalists last term, Olympique Marseille were unable to provide a victory for their new coach, Elie Baup, who watched his side draw 1-1 at Eskisehirspor – a terrific result for the Turkish team, who are playing in this competition for first time in 36 years.
There was a battle between master and pupil in Ramenskoye, where Anzhi Makhachkala coach Guus Hiddink went toe-to-toe with his former assistant at PSV Eindhoven, Fred Rutten, now in charge of Vitesse. Hiddink was the tactician left smiling, though, as second-half strikes from Oleg Shatov and Fedor Smolov secured Anzhi a 2-0 success.
Elsewhere, Apoel FC and FC Viktoria Plzen both won, although Plzen will be considerably happier with their 2-0 triumph at Ruch Chorzów than Apoel will be at conceding an away goal in a 2-1 comeback victory at home to Aalesunds FK.
FC Twente (2-0), Hannover 96 (3-0) and sc Heerenveen (4-0) all established good leads, while Borek Dockal hit his fifth goal in four European matches to go top of the scoring charts and earn Rosenborg BK a 1-1 draw at Servette FC.
The second legs take place on 9 August.
Anzhi Makhachkala (RUS) 2 Vitesse (NED) 0
KuPS Kuopio (FIN) 1 Bursaspor (TUR) 0
Arsenal Kiev (UKR) 3 Mura (SLO) 0
Dila Gori (GEO) 0 Anorthosis Famagouste (CYP) 1
Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv (ISR) 0 PAOK (GRE) 2
Ruch Chorzow (POL) 0 Viktoria Plzen (CZE) 2
APOEL (CYP) 2 Aalesunds (NOR) 1
Tromso IL (NOR) 1 Metalurg Donetsk (UKR) 1
Kalmar FF (SWE) 1 Young Boys Berne (SUI) 0
AIK Solna (SWE) 3 Lech Poznan (POL) 0
Ried (AUT) 2 Legia Warsaw (POL) 1
Heerenveen (NED) 4 Rapid Bucharest (ROM) 0
Twente (NED) 2 Mlada Boleslav (CZE) 0
Steaua Bucharest (ROM) 0 Spartak Trnava (SVK) 1
Servette (SUI) 1 Rosenborg (NOR) 1
Asteras Tripolis (GRE) 1 Maritimo (POR) 1
Gomel (BLR) 0 Liverpool (ENG) 1
Genk (BEL) 2 Aktobe (KAZ) 1
Horsens (DEN) 1 Elfsborg (SWE) 1
Hajduk Split (CRO) 0 Inter Milan (ITA) 3
Red Star Belgrade (SRB) 0 Omonia (CYP) 0
Videoton (HUN) 1 Ghent (BEL) 0
Dundee United (SCO) 2 Dynamo Moscou (RUS) 2
Eskisehirspor (TUR) 1 Marseille (FRA) 1
St Patrick’s (IRL) 0 Hanover (GER) 3
Athletic Bilbao (ESP) 3 Slaven Koprivnica (CRO) 1
FK Vojvodina (SRB) 2 Rapid Vienna (AUT) 1
FK Sarajevo (BSH) 2 Zeta (MNE) 1
Admira Wacker (AUT) 0 Sparta Prague (CZE) 2
Note: Second leg matches on Thursday, August 9.