Europe League roundup: Everton big winners at home; Spurs left with draw on the road

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Twenty-four games kicked off action in this year’s Europa League, and no, we didn’t watch them all. But thanks to the power of researchery and our friends who are at the games, we can keep you up to date on UEFA’s second club tournament. Here’s what happened on Matchday One:

Group A

Apollon Limassol (Cyrpus) 3-2 FC Zurich (Switzerland)
Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany) 1-1 Villarreal (Spain)

Fabian Johnson was back at left midfield as Gladbach welcomed the Yellow Submarine – one of the day’s more anticipated games. The home side went up through Patrick Hermann in the 21st minute only to see Ikychukwu Uche equalize after halftime. While both teams are expected to get out of this group, Villarreal took an early edge on the cluster’s top spot.

In Cyprus, Welsh referee Lee Evans produced two second half red cards, the first (to Apollon’s Marcos Gullon) unable to prevent the home side from breaking a 2-2 tie in the 87th minute. When Yassine Chikhaoui was dismissed for Zurich, the Cypriots were back to even strength, eventually taking full points to open their tournament.

Group B

Club Brugges (Belgium) 0-0 Torino (Italy)
FC Copenhagen (Denmark) 2-0 HJK (Finland)

Two second half goals from Nicolai Jorgensen gave the home team and opening night victory, one that would have been worse had Andreas Cornelius converted an early second half penalty kick.
In Brugges, the teams combined for three shots on target as Torino returned to Europe for the first time in 12 years with a draw in Belgium.

Group C

Besiktas (Turkey) 1-1 Asteras Tripolis (Greece)
Partizan Belgrade (Serbia) 0-0 Tottenham (England)

Wholesale changes by Mauricio Pochettino failed to produce a team capable of putting a shot on target. Fortunately for Spurs, the team’s defense nearly pulled off the same trick, holding its hosts to two tries on Hugo Lloris. With 63 percent possession, Tottenham eased to a point on the road.

Thanks to a first half goal from Gokhan Tore, Besiktas was minutes away from claiming an early lead in the group. With an 88th minute equalizer from Facundo Parra, however, the underdogs were able to take a result out of Istanbul, leaving four leaders at the top of Group C after one round.

Group D

Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) 5-1 Astra Giurgiu (Romania)
Salzburg (Austria) 2-2 Celtic (Scotland)

El Arbi Soudani scored in the 17th, 24th, and 45th minutes for Dinamo, putting the Croatians in cruise control at halftime.
In Salzburg, a late equalizer from Jonatan Soriano pulled back Celtic’s second lead of the day. Despite putting only two shots on target (to their hosts’ 10), the Scottish champions escaped Salzburg with a point.

Group E

PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) 1-0 Estoril (Portugal)
Panathinaikos (Greece) 1-2 Dinamo Moscow (Russia)

One of the competition’s deeper groups saw PSV take care of business at home, albeit in a muted way. Luuk de Jong’s 26th minute conversation from the spot was the only goal for Phillip Cocu’s team.

In Greece, goals on either side of halftime by Alexander Kokorin and Aleksey Ionov had the visitors up two by the 49th minute, with only a score from Athanasios Dinas pulling the hosts within reach of salvaging a result.

Group F

FK Karabakh (Azerbaijan) 0-0 Saint Etienne (France)
Dnipro (Ukraine) 0-1 Inter Milan (Italy)

Danilo D’Ambrosio’s 71st minute goal against a 10-man Dnipro proved the day’s only score, with Group F’s quartets combining for only 11 shots on target across the two games.

Group G

Standard Liege (Belgium) 2-0 Rijeka (Croatia)
Sevilla (Spain) 2-0 Feyenoord (Netherlands)

The holders got off to a strong start against a Feyenoord team still regrouping from its offseason losses. Thanks to first half goals from Grzegorz Krychowiak and Stephane Mbia, the Sevillistas carried their two-goal lead for the match’s final 59 minutes.

In Beligium, the day’s goals came late, with Rijeka able to keep its hosts at arm’s length until the 74th minute. That’s when Laurent Ciman headed hom a corner for Standard, with Vinicius Araujo doubling his team’s lead just before full-time.

Group H

Lille (France) 1-1 FC Krasnodar (Russia)
Everton (England) 4-1 Wolfsburg (Germany)

An impressive European debut for Everton manager Roberto Martinez saw his Toffees up three goals by the 47th minute, with an early own goal from Ricardo Rodriguez giving way to scores by Seamus Coleman and, from the spot, Leighton Baines. Kevin Mirallas added further insurance in the 89th minute, with Rodrguez making late amends with a stoppage time score.

In France, Lille fell behind to Ricardo Laborde’s 35th minute opener, an advantage Krasnodar carried past the hour. In the 63rd minute, Danish international Simon Kjaer hit a free kick into Andrey Dikan’s lower right hand corner, giving Lille a result despite being limited to two shots on target.

Group I

Young Boys (Switzerland) 5-0 Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia)
Napoli (Italy) 3-1 Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)

The slow start to Rafa Benitez’s second season in Naples took a needed turn for the better, with his team rebounding from a weekend loss to Chievo with a victory in Europe. Though they fell behind early after a Josef Husbeauer goal, the partenopei came back with a penalty conversion from Gonzalo Higuain. Dries Mertens added two goals after halftime.

In Switzerland, five different goal scorers saw Young Boys put up one of the day’s most-lopsided results, though late scores from Adrian Nikci (80′) and Guillaume Hoarau (90′) exaggerated the gap between the sides.

Group J

Steaua Bucharest (Romania) 6-0 AaB (Denmark)
Rio Ave (Portugal) 0-3 Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)

Kept out of Champions League by the most surprising circumstances (opposing defender in goal during a penalty kick shootout), Steaua took its frustrations out on the visiting Danes, with Claudiu Keseru’s second half hat trick producing the day’s most one-sided result.

In Portugal, Ukraine powerhouse Dynamo got goals from Andriy Yarmolenko, Younes Belhanda, and Artem Kravets to keep with the group’s theme – favorites putting up landslide results.

Group K

PAOK (Greece) 6-1 Dinamo Minsk (Belarus)
Fiorentina (Italy) 3-0 Guingamp (France)

Goals from Stefanos Athanasiadis in the 11th, 16th, and 28th minutes had PAOK up 4-0 before the half hour mark, with Dinamo reduced to 10 men after Slobodan Simovic saw red in the second half.

In Florence, goals from Juan Cuadrado and Federico Berndeschi piled on after Mustapha Diallo’s red card left Fiorentina up a man and a goal at halftime. La Viola kept 68 percent of the ball.

Group L

Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine) 1-2 Trabzonspor (Turkey)
Legia Warsaw (Poland) 1-0 Lokeren (Belgium)

Former Milan defender Kevin Constant opened the scoring for Trabzonspor in Ukraine, though an equalizer near the hour-mark from Volodimir Gomenyuk seemed to destine the sides for a draw. Four minutes into stoppage time, Avraam Papadopoulos defied that destiny, scoring from close range to given the Turks an upset in Kharkiv.

In Poland, a match short on chances went into halftime scoreless, a tie that was broken in the 58th minute. Scoring from the middle of Lokeren’s area, Miroslav Radovic ensured Legia took full points and shares a spot at the top of the group.