Former champions Bayern Munich and Barcelona enjoyed straightforward wins in their Champions League third qualifying round first-leg ties, but for others, notably Manchester United, it was anything but a comfortable night.
United went down to Hungarian champions Zalaegerszegi courtesy of an injury-time goal from substitute Bela Koplarovics, leaving one of the competition favourites with an uphill battle when the sides meet again at Old Trafford in a fortnight’s time.
Fellow English side Newcastle United marked their return to Europe’s premier competition with a hard-fought win over FK Zeljeznicar. Kieron Dyer was on target for the Magpies midway through the second half.
The champions of 2001, Bayern Munich, served a warning to their rivals with a consumate performance in their win at FK Partizan. Goals from Michael Tarnat, Jens Jeremies and Claudio Pizarro were enough to secure an easy win for the German side.
Equally impressive were Barcelona. New coach Louis Van Gaal wass grateful to compatriots Frank de Boer and Philip Cocu who struck for the Catalan side either side of a goal from new signing Juan Riquelme.
In Italy, the Milan giants have left themselves with work to do if theyare to progress to the Champions League proper. Milan, who rested new signing Rivaldo, were indebted to a Filippo Inzaghi goal midway through the second-half as they struggled to overcome Slovan Liberec. They travel to the Czech Republic in a fortnight’s time with a narrow 1-0 lead.
Their arch-rivals Inter travelled to Portugal and were happy emerge with a goalless draw against Sporting.
Elsewhere, Club Brugge grabbed what could be a vital away goal in their 1-1 draw with FC Shakhtar Donetsk despite being reduced to ten men.
Former European champions Celtic should have done enough after coming back from an early scare to beat FC Basel 3-1 in Glasgow. Argentinian striker Christian Giminez stunned the home crowd by giving the vistors an early lead after just two minutes, but Celtic took the win with strikes from Henrik Larsson, Chris Sutton and Mohamed Sylla.
Dynamo Kyiv beat PFC Levski Sofia 1-0 away and look well set for yet another Champions League campaign, while Rosenborg edged past Brondby by the same scoreline. Lokomotiv Moscow’s 2-0 away win over Grazer AK puts the Russians in a strong position going into the second leg.