Scottish giants Rangers went on the road and thrashed Polish outfit Amica Wronki in a UEFA Cup match Thursday, 5-0.
After a nightmare start to the season which saw Alex McLeish's team bounced out of the Champions League, Rangers have caught fire. They are riding a
five- match unbeaten streak in the Scottish Premier League, and looked dominant in Poland on Thursday.
"I was very pleased with the goals return," said McLeish. "All our forward players looked dangerous."
Peter Lovenkrands, Nacho Novo, Fernando Ricksen, Shota Arveladze and Steven Thompson all scored for McLeish during the rout.
Thursday marked the first ever group stage in the UEFA Cup, and 32 of the 40 remaining clubs took the field. The top three teams in each of the eight
groups will advance to the knockout stage of the competition.
In Group H, Alemannia Aachen of Germany's second division pulled off a shocking 1-0 upset of French side Lille.
The game was scoreless at the half, but Aachen captain Erik Meijer sent the home fans into a frenzy when he headed home the game-winner in the 67th
The loss ends a six-match winning streak for Lille, who are second in the French Ligue 1.
In the other Group H game of the day, Zenit St. Petersburg pummeled AEK Athens, 5-1. Star striker Alexander Kerzhakov netted a hat trick while Andrei
Arshavin and Igor Denisov also scored.
Middlesbrough edged Greek outfit Egaleo Thursday, 1-0. Substitute Stewart Downing scored the game-winner in the 78th minute when the young striker
took a pass from Ray Parlour and struck a low shot inside the far post.
"It's a perfect start for us," said Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren. "For me it was a perfect European performance in the fact it was a clean sheet
and we scored the vital goal."
Sochaux of France earned a valuable road win at Georgian club Dinamo Tbilisi, 2-0. Brazilian striker Ilan followed up his hat trick against Rennes on
Sunday by scoring both goals for Sochaux Thursday.
Feyenoord dominated Hearts in Holland, 3-0. Striker Dirk Kuyt continued his strong play, scoring twice. Bart Goor added a goal for the Dutch powers,
who are tied atop the Eredivisie table with PSV Eindhoven.
Dnipropetrovsk squeaked past Belgian side Club Brugge, 3-2 in the Ukraine. Oleg Venglinsky scored twice for the home team, including the game-winner
in the 62nd minute.
Steaua Bucharest blanked another Belgian club, Standard Liege, 2-0. The Romanians grabbed the lead off an own goal in the 71st minute, and Adrian Rica
Neaga doubled the margin 10 minutes later.
Schalke, who was coming off a 1-0 win at Bayern Munich over the weekend, gave up a late strike at home to Basel 1893 and tied, 1-1. Schalke took a 1-0
lead in the eighth minute, but could not hold on as the Swiss club equalized in the 82nd minute.
Newcastle appeared destined for a scoreless draw at Greek outfit Panionios, but Alan Shearer converted a late penalty kick. In the 87th minute, Shola
Ameobi took on Grigoris Makos, and although it appeared there was little contact Ameobi went down and Shearer gave the English side three points.
Athletic Bilbao added to Parma's horrendous season during a 2-0 win in Spain. Carlos Gurpegi put the Italians in a hole just five minutes into the
match, and Asier del Horno netted the insurance goal in the 49th minute. Parma is winless in Serie A this season, and a turn-around appears unlikely.
A late red card allowed Lazio to come from behind and salvage a draw with Villarreal, 1-1. Villarreal took a 1-0 lead four minutes into the match, and
appeared poised to take the three points. But Jose Mari Romero, who scored the goal, was sent off in the 75th minute and Lazio equalized nine minutes
Real Zaragoza of Spain took down Dutch club Utrecht, 2-0. The match was scoreless until the 77th minute when David Villa took over, scoring twice in a
five minute span.
French side Auxerre and Grazer AK of Austria played to a scoreless draw in a Group F match. Meanwhile, Bundesliga leaders Stuttgart were impressive
again, punishing Belgian side Beveren 5-1. Brazilian Cacau scored twice, and striker Kevin Kuranyi added a goal of his own in the blowout.