Napoli and Liverpool held to scoreless draws in Europa League
Serie A title-chasers Napoli will travel to Spanish opponents Villarreal next week with their Europa League hopes in the balance after they were held 0-0 in their last 32 first-leg clash on Thursday.
Paris: Serie A title-chasers Napoli will travel to Spanish opponents Villarreal next week with their Europa League hopes in the balance after they were held 0-0 in their last 32 first-leg clash on Thursday.
It will not be the ideal scenario for the former Italian champions -- playing in only their second European campaign in 16 years -- as days later they face Serie A leaders AC Milan in a match pivotal to their title hopes.
There was no winning return to European competition for Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, meanwhile, as the Scottish legend -- who replaced Roy Hodgson at the helm -- had to make do with a workmanlike 0-0 draw at Czech side Sparta Prague.
"There`s a lot of value coming out of the game," said Dalglish.
"It was not a classic. The onus is on the home team to put pressure on us and they did not really do that. On the night, 0-0 was probably fair enough."
Spain`s two-time UEFA Cup winners Sevilla have it all to do in the second leg after they lost 2-1 at home to Portuguese league leaders FC Porto.
Freddie Kanoute had levelled for the Spanish side mid-way through the second half, only for Colombian Fredy Guarin to score a late winner.
An 89th-minute equaliser from Peguy Luyindula saw French title contenders Paris Saint-Germain emerge from the away leg of their tie against Belarusian champions BATE Borisov with a creditable 2-2 draw.
Amid temperatures that touched -17 degrees Celsius, BATE looked to have won the match when they made it 2-1 late on with a goal from recent midfield signing Mikhail Gordeichuk.
PSG`s Turkish striker Mevlut Erding had equalised in the first half after the French side had gone behind to a goal from Brazilian striker Bressan.
"We have to congratulate the players, who came back twice from a goal down," said PSG coach Antoine Kombouare.
"But we have to finish the job off at home in a week."
PSG`s title rivals Lille also drew 2-2 but they will be kicking themselves as they led 2-0 going into the final 10 minutes before PSV Eindhoven struck twice in two minutes through Wilfred Bouma and Ola Toivonen.
Elsewhere, there were convincing away wins for Dynamo Kiev and Ajax.
The former beat Turkish side Besiktas 4-1, with veteran Andriy Shevchenko on target, while the hosts` goalscorer, Ricardo Quaresma, blotted his copybook by being sent off at the final whistle.
Ajax eased to a 3-0 win at Belgian rivals Anderlecht, with second-half goals from teenage midfielder Christian Eriksen and Moroccan striker Mounir El Hamdaoui sealing victory after Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld had given them the lead in the opening period.
Bundesliga high-flyers Bayer Leverkusen can also take their foot off the pedal for next week`s second leg in Germany as they ran out easy 4-0 winners over Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv, with Sidney Sam grabbing a late brace.
The early kick-off had seen Dutch champions FC Twente carry on the good form from their tough Champions League group with a fine 2-0 win away at Russian side Rubin Kazan.
The hosts will have cursed the fact they had been forced to play the home leg in Moscow because their pitch in Kazan -- where they have not lost in two Champions League group campaigns -- was not in a fit state.
Luuk de Jong and captain Peter Wisgerhof were the goalscorers, de Jong heading in the opener in the 77th minute and skipper Wisgerhof snaffling up a rebound after de Jong had seen a shot saved two minutes from time.