Red Bull Salzburg began their Europa League campaign with a tough match against PSG, while there was plenty of action elsewhere.
PSG 3–1 Red Bull Salzburg
Red Bull Salzburg travelled to Paris St Germain knowing that the former UEFA Cup winners and apparent potential suitors of David Beckham would pose a tough test, and that proved to be the case. After a bright opening at Parc des Princes with scoring chances for both sides, PSG were awarded a penalty after Franz Schiemer brought down Jérémy Menez in the Salzburg box, Nene putting the home side ahead with a deftly taken spot-kick on 34 minutes, with Mathieu Bodmer then adding a second before half-time. PSG put the result beyond doubt with a third from Menez on 67 minutes to send the French Ligue 1 side to the top of Europa League Group F. The Red Bulls reduced the deficit with a consolation goal on 87 minutes as Ibrahim Sekagya headed the ball in from a Jakob Jantscher free kick.
'There are five "finals" left for us now' – Stefan Maierhofer
“This defeat is painful for us, especially in the manner that it came about. We showed no fear from the very start, we were at least equal and had three good chances,” said Red Bull Salzburg coach Ricardo Moniz. “After going 1–0 down we lost our organisation completely for a short while. And it’s always going to be very difficult to find that again against such a strong team.”
“We knew we'd have six difficult games,” added Salzburg’s Stefan Maierhofer. “There are five 'finals' left for us now.”
In the same group, Slovan Bratislava went down 2–1 at home to Spanish side Athletic Bilbao, with the former placing ahead of the latter in second and third respectively in the Group F shake-up.
PAOK 0–0 Tottenham Hotspur
Elsewhere, in Group A, last year’s Champions League quarter-finalists Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League were brought down to earth with a bump, drawing a blank against Greek side PAOK in Salonika. Harry Kane looked to have won the away team a penalty after a Pablo Contreras trip, but instead the referee booked the Spurs youngster for diving. “I thought it was a penalty. I've seen a replay – it was a foul,” claimed Spurs manager Harry Redknapp. It could have been worse for Tottenham after the Greeks were then almost immediately awarded their own contentious penalty. Lino scored from the spot-kick, but it was disallowed after encroachment in the 18-yard box – and the Brazilian then missed the retake.
Besiktas 5–1 Maccabi Tel Aviv
The biggest victory of the night came courtesy of Group E and Turkish side Besiktas, who took just three minutes to open their Europa League account from the boot of Hugo Almeida, who added a second on the half-hour. There was brief resistance as their Israeli visitors struck back after half-time from Roi Kehat, but further goals from Mehmet Aurélio, Egemen Korkmaz and Edu put the result beyond doubt.
'I've seen a replay – it was a foul' – Harry Redknapp
Birmingham City 1–3 Braga
Last year’s losing Europa Cup finalists Braga of Portugal travelled to Birmingham in the UK Midlands to face a side now playing their football in England’s second tier after relegation from the Premier League – City qualified as losing finalists in the English FA Cup and are seeing their first European action for 50 years. Despite a valiant effort, two goals from Hélder Barbosa and another from Lima saw Braga go top of Group H with relative ease, despite Marlon King’s late consolation.
Other eyecatching results saw Sporting Clube de Portugal beat FC Zurich 2–0 in Group D, with Lazio and Romanian side FC Vaslui sharing the points in an entertaining 2–2 draw in that same group. Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kiev were held 1–1 by resilient Europa League newcomers Stoke City in Group E, while there were wins for Rubin Kazan, FC Copenhagen, PSV Eindhoven, Rapid Bucharest, AZ Alkmaar, Metalist Khalkar, Club Brugge, Atlético Madrid, Udinese, Maccabi Haifa, Odense, Anderlecht and Lokomotiv Moscow.