Last season's UEFA Cup champion Shakhtar Donetsk beat Partizan Belgrade 4-1 to continue their good run in the new Europa League competition.
Shakhtar continue their fine form
BRUSSELS // Last season's UEFA Cup champion Shakhtar Donetsk beat Partizan Belgrade 4-1 yesterday to continue their good run in the new Europa League competition. The result gave Shakhtar sole possession of the lead in Group J after Toulouse was held to a 2-2 draw at home by Club Brugge. Even if Shakhtar was lucky to take the lead on an own goal by Marko Lomic halfway through the first half, it made sure of victory with three more by Luiz Adriano, Jadson and Yaroslav Rakitskiy before Adem Ljajic scored a late consolation goal for Partizan. It left the Ukrainians with a maximum six points, ahead of Toulouse with four, Brugge with one, while Partizan has none. Newly arrived Croatian forward Ivan Perisic headed home an equalizer four minutes into injury time to give Brugge their first point in the competition. Their Nigerian striker Joseph Akpala broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute with a right-footed strike but Toulouse leveled two minutes later when defender Moussa Sissoko slotted home with a low shot. The French club then looked to have secured all three points when France striker Andre-Pierre Gignac struck six minutes from time before Perisic's late strike. Toulouse fans and players paid tribute to Brice Taton, the supporter who died Tuesday in a Belgrade hospital after being beaten by Serbian hooligans on September 17. They displayed huge flags in the stands and players of both sides observed a minute's silence before the kickoff. In Group A, Anderlecht fought back with 10 men to earn 1-1 draw with Ajax after defender Jelle Van Damme was sent off for pushing with 10 minutes to go. Despite being down to 10 men, the Belgians continued to attack and Jonathan Legaer tapped in a rebound in the 85th to cancel out Dennis Rommedahl's strike. In the other group game, Dinamo Zagreb bounced back from a loss to Anderlecht at home with a 3-0 victory over Timisoara. Anderlecht top the group with four points, one ahead of Dinamo. Two draws have left Ajax with two points and Timisoara has one. In one of the most exciting matches of a busy night of European football, Spain and Valencia forward David Villa earned a penalty and then scored the winner from the spot in the 82nd-minute in a seesaw battle with Italy's Genoa. Both sides led before the game finished 3-2 to the Spaniards. It was Villa's seventh goal of the campaign. The other Group B game saw even more goals as Lille thrashed Slavia Prague 5-1. Valencia and Lille have four points and Genoa three, while Slavia Prague has yet to earn a point. Hamburg registered their first points in Group C with a 4-2 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv, while leader Rapid Vienna and Celtic drew 1-1. Vienna has four points, one more than Hamburg and Tel Aviv. In group D, Sporting Lisbon made it two wins out of two, adding to Hertha Berlin's misery in the Bundesliga with a 1-0 home win. Ventspils and Heerenveen played out a goalless draw in the other group game. Sporting tops the group with six points, four ahead of their nearest rival Ventspils. Roma secured their first points of the campaign with a 2-0 win over CSKA Sofia, while Fulham took the lead in Group E with four points after a 1-0 win over Basel. Basel and Roma both have three points and CSKA has one. Panathinaikos beat Dynamo Bucharest 1-0 in Romania while Sturm Graz drew 1-1 with Galatasaray. The Turkish team leads group F with four points, one ahead of Panathinaikos and Bucharest. FC Salzburg confirmed their fine form in the Austrian league with an easy 2-0 victory over Spain's Villarreal in Group G after Marc Janko and Somen Tchoyi scored a goal in each half. It was yet another setback for Villarreal, showing the same poor form which has left it just one place off the bottom in La Liga. In the same group, Lazio bounced back from their opening defeat to Salzburg with a 4-0 win at Levski Sofia. Matuzalem opened the scoring for the Italians in the 22nd minute before Mauro Zarate added a second goal just before halftime. Mourad Meghni in the 67th and Tommaso Rocchi in the 73rd sealed a convincing victory. Salzburg leads Group G with six points, ahead of Lazio and Villarreal who both have three. Everton maintained their perfect record with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Bate Borisov in Group I. Dmitri Likhtarovich put the home side ahead, but Everton struck back with a header by Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini in the 68th minute and Australian forward Tim Cahill lobbed the ball over Bate 'keeper Sergei Veremko 11 minutes later. In the other game, AEK Athens beat Benfica 1-0. Everton has six points ahead of AEK and Benfica who both have three. The top two from each of the 12 groups advance into the knockout round where they will be joined by the ten losing sides from the Champions League playoff round. Werder Bremen also took a big step toward the knockout phase, beating Spain's Athletic Bilbao 3-1, while Austria Vienna and CD Nacional played out a 1-1 draw. Werder - which lost to Shakhtar in last season's UEFA Cup final - has six points, with Bilbao their closest rival on three. Vienna and Nacional both have one point. *AP