Liverpool, Juve win as Europa League heads east

London: Liverpool and Juventus, forced into the indignity of beginning their season in the Europa League qualifying rounds, both won 2-0 away on Thursday as European club football ventured into deepest Siberia.

Liverpool, playing in the Champions League`s poorer cousin for the second season running after exiting the premier competition at the group stage last term, beat Rabotniki in Macedonia while the Italians overcame Ireland`s Shamrock Rovers.

The former European champions were among a smattering of familiar names in Thursday`s 34 third qualifying round, first leg ties which featured matches from the island of Madeira, in the Atlantic ocean, to Novosibirsk, halfway across Russia.

Portugal`s Maritimo hammered Bangor City 8-2 in the former match in Funchal while the latter saw Russian Cup runners-up Sibir Novosibirsk beat Apollon Limassol 1-0 to record their first-ever win in European club competition.

Senegal`s Baba Diawara and Brazilians Tcho and Danilo all notched two goals apiece for Maritimo, who scored five times in the last 15 minutes.

Captain Aleksei Medvedev scored in the 74th for Sibir, who are based more than 3,000 miles from Moscow and became the most easterly club to appear in European competition.

"The victory is the first for Sibir in Europe, and I would like to congratulate the team and the city," said coach Igor Kriushenko.

David Ngog scored in each half for Liverpool, in their first competitive match under new coach Roy Hodgson who last season led Fulham to the final of the same competition, while an Amauri double gave Juventus their win.

Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart overcame the absence of German internationals Cacau, Serdar Tasci and Sami Khedira, still on holiday after the World Cup, to triumph 3-2 at Norwegian club Molde with an 82nd minute winner from substitute Martin Harnik.

However, coach Christian Gross was not pleased with his side who twice squandered the lead. "We have to play with more focus to make it easier for ourselves," he said.

Dutch side AZ Alkmaar beat Gothenburg 2-0, Sporting Lisbon won 1-0 at Danish side Nordsjaelland while Galatasaray were held 2-2 at home by OFK Belgrade, who scored in the last 10 minutes through substitutes Milos Krstic and Nenad Injac.

There was crowd trouble in Romania when about 500 supporters of Croatia`s Hajduk Split were banned from attending the match at Dinamo Bucharest following pre-game clashes.

Romania state news agency Agerpres said 25 Croat supporters and 25 Romanians clashed in front of a central shopping mall in Bucharest, with one supporter severely wounded. Dinamo won 3-1.

Bureau Report

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