(GSM) - Liverpool have enough left to work for in the UEFA Europa League after losing their round of sixteen first leg game at Sporting Braga. Porto, Villarreal and FC Twente got important wins.
Underdogs Sporting Braga hosted Liverpool in Portugal and opened the scoring after 18 minutes. Sotiros Kyrgiakos fouled Marcio Mossoro in the penalty area and Alan made no mistake from the spot, 1-0.
Liverpool failed to get an equaliser or even convince in the remainder of the game, which was later dubbed "terrible" by Reds manager Kenny Dalglish.
On a generally disappointing game for English teams, Manchester City suffered a 2-0 defeat at Dynamo Kyiv in Ukraine.
Former AC Milan and Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko scored the opener for Dynamo in the 25 minutes, and Oleg Gusev made it 2-0 in the 77th.
Three Russian teams featured in Thursday's Europa League fixtures, with only Spartak Moskva managing a win.
The Muscovites played away to Ajax and needed only one real chance to make the difference, as Alex found the target from the edge of the area in the 57th minute.
Ajax were dominant throughout most of the game but the Dutch hosts failed to convert their chances. This was also due to an excellent performance from Spartak goalkeeper Dikan.
In another Dutch-Russian clash, Eredivisie champions FC Twente earned a highly convincing 3-0 win over 2008 UEFA Cup winners Zenit St. Petersburg.
Luuk de Jong put the home side in the lead after 25 minutes, slightly against the run of play. Denny Landzaat then doubled the lead four minutes before the hour, and De Jong added a third in the second minute of added time.
FC Porto got an important 1-0 away win at CSKA Moskva meanwhile, with Colombian Fredy Guarin scoring the only goal after 70 minutes.
PSV Eindhoven hosted Scotland's Rangers, a match which was mostly dominated by the home side. Nevertheless, the visitors kept their sheet clean as PSV missed several big chances to break the deadlock. Rangers played on defense throughout most of the game, clearly aiming to leave the Netherlands without having conceded a goal.
One of the most entertaining games of the day was the match between Bayer Leverkusen and Villarreal, in Germany.
Michal Kadlec opened the scoring for Leverkusen after 33 minutes, but things were turned around as Giuseppe Rossi equalised shortly before the break and Nilmar put Villarreal ahead in the 70th minute.
Bayer reacted well with Gonzalo Castro restoring the balance two minutes later, but a last-gasp strike from Nilmar handed Villarreal a spectacular 3-2 win.
In the day's remaining game, Benfica earned a hard-fought 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in Portugal. The French initially took the lead with Peguy Luyindula finding the target in the 15th minute, but Maximiliano Pereira leveled three minutes before the break and Franco Jara completed Benfica's turn-around with eight minutes left to play.
The return legs in the Europa League round of sixteen are scheduled for Thursday, March 17th.
|Coach: Domingos Paciência|
for Marcio Mossoró 69'
for Lima 77'
for Paulo César 90+3'
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