Hamburg humbled in Europa League by Rapid

Nikica Jelavic celebrates after putting Rapid Vienna 2-0 up against Bundesliga leaders Hamburg.
German leaders Hamburg suffered a crushing 3-0 defeat by Rapid Vienna in their Europa League group-stage opener on Thursday, while Roma’s poor season continued with a 2-0 loss away to Basel.

It was a miserable night in Austria for Hamburg, who conceded two goals at the end of the first half against a Rapid side struggling in sixth place in their domestic league. Rapid’s German captain Steffen Hofmann broke the deadlock 10 minutes before halftime when his innocuous-looking free-kick bemused goalkeeper Frank Rost and went into the net, seemingly with a faint touch from Jerome Boateng on the way. Nikica Jelavic made it 2-0 a minute before the break after Veli Kavlak fired a low cross that Boateng could not make contact with. Substitute Christopher Drazan sealed victory to delight the near-50,000 sellout crowd, with the 18-year-old latching on to a long kick from goalkeeper Helge Payer and finishing from the edge of the penalty area. In the other Group C match, Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv came from behind to win 2-1 at home to Scottish team Celtic, who entered the competition after losing in the final round of Champions League qualifiers. Greek striker Georgios Samaras put the visitors ahead in the 25th minute, but Serbian playmaker Nemanja Vucicevic equalized with 15 minutes to go and substitute Maaran Lala netted an 88th-minute winner from close range. Roma have picked up just three points from three matches in the Italian league this season, with coach Luciano Spalletti resigning to be replaced by Claudio Ranieri. Ranieri’s first game in charge ended up in a 2-1 victory against Siena last weekend, but his side opened their Group E campaign with a morale-sapping defeat in Switzerland.

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Striker Carlos Alberto Carlitos put the home side ahead in the 11th minute and substitute Frederico Almerares sealed victory with three minutes of regulation time left. In the other Group E tie, Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia were held 1-1 at home by England’s Fulham. Substitute Michel Platini scored his first goal for Sofia in the 62nd minute, with the Brazilian summer signing holding off the defense and volleying home from the edge of the area. Diomansy Kamara leveled three minutes later with his first goal of the season, as the Senegal striker calmly pushed a long ball past the onrushing goalkeeper and found the net. Italian league leaders Genoa continued their perfect start to the season with a 2-0 victory at home to Slavia Prague in Group B. Spanish midfielder Alberto Zapater netted a free-kick after just four minutes and Giuseppe Sculli doubled the lead on 39 as he volleyed in a cross from Nenad Tomovic. Zapater also deflected the ball onto the bar in the 70th minute as Genoa warmed up for next weeks’ trip to Valencia, who were held 1-1 away to Lille in their opening match. Juan Mata put the Spaniards ahead in the 78th minute, but the French team earned a point with just four minutes left through fellow substitute Yao Gervinho. In Group A, Romania’s FC Timisoara earned a vital point after a 0-0 draw away to Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam. Belgian side Anderlecht won 2-0 away to Dinamo Zagreb thanks to Vctor Bernardez’s 74th-minute free-kick and another late goal from Jonathan Legear in the driving rain in Croatia. In Group D, Sporting Lisbon came from behind to beat Dutch strugglers Heerenveen 3-2 as Liedson netted a hat-trick. The Brazil-born striker, who has represented Portugal twice, scored twice in the first half and then clinched victory with two minutes to go after Michael Dingsdag’s free-kick looked to have earned the hosts a point. Injury-hit German club Hertha Berlin were held 1-1 at home by FK Ventspils as the Latvians earned a point in their first appearance in the group stages of a UEFA club competition. In Group F, Galatasaray strolled to a 3-1 victory away to Panathinaikos in Athens as Brazilian summer signing Elano scored twice — one a deflected free-kick — and set up another goal for Czech striker Milan Baros. Romanian side Dinamo Bucuresti won 1-0 away to Austria’s Sturm Graz as defender Gabriel Tamas netted the only goal with 10 minutes to play.