Former European champions PSV Eindhoven beat Belgian side SV Zulte Waregem 2-0 and Olympique Lyonnais edged Grasshopper Club Zurich 1-0 in the first legs of their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round matches on Tuesday as they bid to reach the playoffs for a spot in the lucrative group stage.
Dutch championship runners-up PSV took the lead against competition debutants Waregem with a stunning long-range strike from Memphis Depay just after the hour, before substitute Jurgen Locadia added a second in the 75th minute for the 1988 European Cup winners, who also hit the woodwork four times in the match.
While PSV are aiming for their first group-stage appearance since the 2008-2009 season, Olympique Lyonnais have had more success in recent years having reached the semi-finals in 2009-2010 and they gave themselves the narrowest advantage to take into the second leg when defender Milan Bisevac headed the only goal after 64 minutes.
The Serbian’s powerful header flashed past goalkeeper Roman Burki from Clement Grenier’s free-kick, but Michael Skibbe’s Grasshoppers side will feel hard done by having twice hit the post in the first half at the Stade de Gerland.
Luciano Spalletti’s Zenit St Petersburg also have a 1-0 lead over Danish side Nordsjaelland thanks to Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who scored four minutes after coming on to secure victory away to opponents who were also in the group stage last season.
Former European champions Steaua Bucharest claimed a 2-0 victory over Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi with two goals from teenager Gabriel Iancu.
The Romanian champions had goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu to thank for saving a Xisco penalty just after the hour, before halftime substitute Iancu struck in the 64th and 80th minutes.
Last season’s Europa League semi-finalists Basel earned a 1-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv thanks to a 39th-minute strike from Valentin Stocker.
The Swiss champions dominated the match, but could not add to the goal from 24-year-old Stocker, who fired a low shot past goalkeeper Juan Pablo.
Austrian champions Austria Vienna, who like Basel entered the qualifiers in the third round, also have a narrow 1-0 advantage to take into their second leg against Fimleikafelag Hafnarfjordur of Iceland after winger Daniel Royer scored in the 25th minute.
Marian Cisovsky’s hat-trick helped Czech champions Viktoria Plzen win 4-0 against Estonia’s JK Nomme Kalju, who had celebrated their first win in Europe in the previous round when they beat Finnish side HJK.
Plzen, who also scored four first-leg goals in the previous round against FK Zeljeznicar, opened the scoring after two minutes in Tallinn through Cisovsky, who added two more in the second half either side of Michal Duris’ 77th-minute strike.
Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb grabbed a last-minute goal from substitute Ante Rukavina to secure a 1-0 win against Sheriff of Moldova having controlled the game against the visitors and struck the woodwork through Junior Fernandes, while Metalist Kharkiv’s Marko Devic scored in each half for the Ukrainians to wrap up a 2-0 victory over PAOK in Greece.
Kazakh champions Shakhter Karagandy thrashed Albania’s KF Skenderbeu Korce 3-0 with goals from Aldin Dzidic, Roman Murtazayev and Sergei Khizhnichenko securing victory at the Astana Arena.
The hosts also beat last season’s group-stage contenders BATE Borisov in both legs of their second qualifying round tie.
There were five more third qualifying round matches scheduled for yesterday, with the return legs on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
The winners of the qualifiers will reach the playoff round, which offers a route into the lucrative group stage.