Liverpool overcame an early scare and came from a goal down to claim a 3-1 win at Austria’s LASK Linz in their opening Europa League Group E game on Thursday.
Liverpool, whose last Europa League campaign came in 2015-16 and saw them lose the final 3-1 to Sevilla, looked uncomfortable in the first half against determined hosts who are playing in Europa League group stage for the third time.
LASK, third in the 2022-23 Austrian Bundesliga, took a surprise lead in the 14th minute through a stunning goal by winger Florian Flecker, who connected with a corner and blasted it in past Liverpool keeper Caoimhin Kelleher.
Liverpool had an excellent chance to level through a Darwin Nunez close-range header later in the first half but were denied by an alert save from goalkeeper Tobias Lawal.
But Nunez levelled for Juergen Klopp’s side following halftime, coolly converting from the spot after the visitors were awarded a penalty when winger Luis Diaz was taken down inside the box.
Diaz then moved Liverpool in front in the 63rd from close range, netting a brilliant cross into the middle of the box by Ryan Gravenberch, before substitute Mohamed Salah sealed the win two minutes from time with a low strike inside the far post.
In the other Group E clash, last season’s quarter-finalists Union Saint-Gilloise rescued a home 1-1 draw against Toulouse.
Bayer Leverkusen scored twice inside 16 minutes to beat Swedish champions Hacken 4-0 at home, while the 2022-23 runners-up AS Roma claimed a 2-1 win at Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol with a Romelu Lukaku goal.
Panathinaikos, second in the Greek Super League last season, shocked the 2020-21 winners Villarreal 2-0.
Stade Rennais midfielder Ludovic Blas found the net in the first minute to help his side earn a comfortable 3-0 win over visiting Israel champions Maccabi Haifa.
West Ham beat Serbia’s Backa Topola 3-1 with own goal
An own goal by Backa Topola’s Nemanja Petrovic helped West Ham United recover from a goal down to clinch a 3-1 home win over the Serbian side in a Europa League Group A match on Thursday.
Despite dominating ball possession and 15 attempts in the first half, West Ham were unable to break the deadlock before halftime against competition debutants who are playing European football for just the second time.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts when midfielder Petar Stanic gave Backa a shock lead after the break as he capitalised on an error by West Ham defence and made it 1-0 after a solo run.
But Backa defender Petrovic failed to protect their advantage when he scored an own goal in the 66th minute before West Ham midfielder Mohammed Kudus scored for the London side with a header and substitute Tomas Soucek sealed the win.
Inexperience cost Brighton on European debut, says De Zerbi
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Roberto De Zerbi said the lack of experience in his young squad cost them a victory at home after the Premier League club were narrowly beaten 3-2 on their European debut by Greek side AEK Athens.
Brighton, who finished sixth in the English top-flight last season and qualified for European football for the first time in the club’s history, missed the experience of defender and captain Lewis Dunk through injury in the group Europa League stage fixture.
De Zerbi said he was proud of his team’s performance regardless of the result.
“We were unlucky; I think the result is unfair,” the Italian said. “I’m really pleased with the performance, we played very well with personality.
“Maybe we don’t have the right experience, we have younger players, and we can pay (the price) for this.
“For us it was a really historic day. For our fans, I’m sorry for them. We can decide how we are going to play, but we cannot decide the result.”
Brighton face a difficult task in their bid to progress past the group stage, where they will also come up against former champions Ajax Amsterdam and three-time finalists Olympique de Marseille.
Brighton will next host Bournemouth on Sunday in the Premier League, followed by a visit to Chelsea on Wednesday in the EFL Cup. They sit fifth in the league with 12 points from five matches, one point behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
Europa League results
Bayer Leverkusen (2) 4 Häcken (0) 0
Qarabağ (0) 1 Molde (0) 0
Panathinaikos (1) 2 Villarreal (0) 0
Rennes (2) 3 Maccabi Haifa (0) 0
Servette (0) 0 Slavia Praha (1) 2
Sheriff (0) 1 Roma (1) 2
LASK (1) 1 Liverpool (0) 3
Union Saint-Gilloise (0) 1 Toulouse (1) 1
West Ham United (0) 3 TSC (0) 1
Olympiakos Piraeus (1) 2 Freiburg (2) 3
Ajax (2) 3 Olympique Marseille (2) 3
Brighton Hove Albion (1) 2 AEK Athens (2) 3
Atalanta (0) 2 Raków Częstochowa (0) 0
Sturm Graz (0) 1 Sporting CP (0) 2
Sparta Praha (2) 3 Aris Limassol (1) 2
Rangers (0) 1 Real Betis (0) 0