The attractive football preached by Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup was displayed to great effect when the Welsh side stunned 10-man Valencia with a 3-0 away victory in the Europa League on Thursday.
In their first season in European competition for 22 years, English League Cup holders Swansea took advantage of defender Adil Rami’s 10th-minute dismissal to run riot in the Group A clash at the Mestalla with goals from Wilfried Bony, Michu and Jonathan De Guzman.
The opening group stage matches produced another shock in Eindhoven where PSV, one of five teams in action who have previously won the UEFA Cup or Europa League, were beaten 2-0 by Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad in Group B.
England striker Jermain Defoe struck twice in Tottenham Hotspur’s 3-0 home Group K win over Tromso, his 19th and 20th goals in Europe for the London club.
Substitute Kevin Gameiro’s goal lifted twice UEFA Cup winners Sevilla to a 2-1 win at Estoril in Group H and a second-half goal from Brazilian Hernanes secured Lazio three points with a 1-0 home victory over Legia Warsaw in Group J.
Swansea’s record signing Bony continued his prolific start after joining from Vitesse Arnhem in July for 12 million pounds ($19.27 million) with a powerful first-time finish from Michu’s centre, just minutes after Valencia had been reduced to 10 men.
Ivorian international Bony, with four goals in Europe this season, was set to race clean through before last man Rami impeded his progress and was shown a straight red card.
Spaniard Michu, whose first campaign in English football yielded 18 Premier League goals last season, again displayed his clinical finishing by doubling Swansea’s lead after 58 minutes from Alejandro Pozuelo’s pass.
A woeful night for Valencia, who won the 2004 UEFA Cup and were beaten finalists in successive Champions League finals at the turn of the century, was capped when De Guzman curled in a delightful free kick from 30 metres just past the hour.
Laudrup, who fielded six Spaniards in his starting lineup – Valencia only had four – said Swansea had “dominated from start to finish.
“It could have been more than three and I’m very pleased to beat a club like Valencia,” said the Dane.
PSV goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet’s misplaced clearance on the hour handed Ludogorets the opening goal in Eindhoven.
Zoet rushed out of his area to clear a long ball but found only Roman Bezjak who stroked it back past him into the empty net.
Phillip Cocu’s side conceded a second goal after 74 minutes when Virgil Misidjan put away the rebound after his shot struck a post.
Former Netherlands midfielder Cocu told reporters he had not underestimated the Bulgarians. “We knew that Ludogorets could play well and would aggressively defend. They are also a team who can create opportunities,” he said.
Ludogorets, who won their maiden league title last year and then retained their crown, were competing in the domestic third division only three years ago.
Coach Stoicho Stoev hailed a victory he described as “a historic moment for us.
“We came to Eindhoven with a lot to offer,” he said. “But we did not expect to win.”
Tottenham’s Defoe, yet to start a Premier League match this season with their Spain striker Roberto Soldado preferred up front, gave manager Andre Villas-Boas a timely reminder of his finishing abilities.
His dinked goal broke the deadlock after 21 minutes and he struck again just before the half-hour mak to end a slick passing move.
“His record speaks for itself, he has been keeping himself sharp and fit and he has been excellent again tonight,” Villas-Boas told ITV.
Substitute Christian Eriksen fired in a third four minutes from time, the Denmark playmaker’s first for Spurs following his move from Ajax Amsterdam.
Victory came at a cost for the Londoners, however, with Danny Rose limping off with an ankle problem, Mousa Dembele carried off on a stretcher after a heavy challenge and Younes Kaboul leaving the field injured in the closing minutes.
In other matches, Spaniard Jonatan Soriano hit a hat-trick for FC Salzburg as the Austrian league leaders thumped Sweden’s Elfsborg 4-0 in Group C.
Fiorentina also eased to a 3-0 win at home to Pacos Ferreira in Group E and Rubin Kazan romped to a 5-2 Group D victory over Maribor in Slovenia.