Spurs ran out incredible 5-0 winners – away from home – against the SPL team Hearts, as they set the standard in an entertaining evening of football. Five players made the Tottenham score-sheet, as Van der Vaart, Defoe, Livermore, Bale and Lennon all hit the net during Spurs’ first competitive match of season 11/12.
Italian greats, Lazio, were the biggest winners on the night, as the European past-masters piled on six unanswered goals for a 6-0 win at home to Macedonian club Rabotnicki Skopje. Five different goal scorers including a Djibril Cisse brace helped Lazio on their way to this impressive victory, which all-but assures the sky blue Romans a place in the Europa Group Stage.
Another London based Barclays Premier League side, Fulham, also enjoyed a multiple-goal first leg success, as they produced a solid 3-0 home win against Dnipro of Ukraine.
Turkish side Besiktas were another off to a great start, as they also picked up a 3-0 home win, against Russian outfit Alania Vladikavkaz.
French giants, Paris Saint Germain were another side with significant European heritage who made sure that their progression to the Group Stage of this season’s UEFA Europa League is all but assured, by producing a commanding 4-0 away win against minnows from Luxembourg, Differdange, who only made it through to this Play-Off after Olympiakos Volou, who beat them 3-0 twice in the 3rd Qualifying Round, were eliminated following the ‘Koriopolis’ match-fixing scandal.
The 3-3 draw between FC Zestafoni and Club Bruges was perhaps the most entertaining, as well as the joint highest scoring, tie of the evening, as the sides shared a six-goal thriller in which the visitors went 2-0 up, only to be pegged back in the second half to 2-2, took the lead again, and were again equalised.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv claimed an impressive 3-0 victory over Greek side Panathinaikos, as another home team put themselves into huge contention.
It was not to be a good night for Scottish teams, however, as only Celtic, who were held to a 0-0 home draw with FC Sion of Switzerland managed to avoid defeat on the night: both Hearts and Rangers, who lost 2-1 away at NK Maribor of Slovenia, were beaten in their opening leg encounters.
Full results from the UEFA Europa League 2011/12 Play-Off rounds are listed below.
UEFA Europa League 2011/12 Results – Play-Off Round First Leg – Thursday 18 August 2011
- Aalesunds FK 2-1 AZ Alkmaar
- AEK Athens 1-0 Dinamo Tbilisi
- Athletic Bilbao 0-0 Trabzonspor
- Atletico Madrid 2-0 Guimaraes
- Austria Vienna 3-1 Gaz Metan Medias
- Besiktas 3-0 Alania Vladikavkaz
- Braga 0-0 Young Boys
- Bursaspor 1-2 Anderlecht
- Celtic 0-0 FC Sion
- Differdange 0-4 Paris SG
- Ekranas Panevezys 1-0 Hapoel Tel-Aviv
- FC Metalist Kharkiv 0-0 Sochaux
- FC Nordsjaelland 0-0 Sporting
- FC Thun 0-1 Stoke
- FC Vaslui 2-0 Sparta Prague
- FC Zestafoni 3-3 Club Bruges
- Fulham 3-0 Dnipro
- Hannover 96 2-1 Sevilla
- Hearts 0-5 Tottenham
- HJK Helsinki 2-0 Schalke 04
- Lazio 6-0 Rabotnicki Skopje
- Legia Warsaw 2-2 Spartak Moscow
- Litex Lovech 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
- Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0 FC Spartak Trnava
- Macc Tel-Aviv 3-0 Panathinaikos
- Nacional 0-0 Birmingham
- NK Maribor 2-1 Rangers
- Omonia Nicosia 2-1 Red Bull Salzburg
- PAOK Salonika 2-0 Karpaty Lviv
- Red Star Belgrade 1-2 Rennes
- Rosenborg 0-0 AEK Larnaca
- Shamrock Rovers 1-1 Partizan Belgrade
- Slask Wroclaw 1-3 Rapid Bucharest
- Slovan Bratislava 1-0 Roma
- Standard Liege 1-0 Helsingborgs
- Steaua Bucharest 2-0 CSKA Sofia
- SV Ried 0-0 PSV Eindhoven
- Vorskla Poltava 2-1 Dinamo Bucharest
The second leg matches are scheduled to take place on the evening of Thursday 25 August 2011.