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.
World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying yesterday eased past her Thai opponent to advance to the second round of the Toyota Thailand Open. The Taiwanese star toppled world No. 46 Supanida Katethong 21-16, 21-11 in 29 minutes at the Impact Arena in Bangkok. “I think I played OK today. I am feeling a little better than last week,” Tai said. Tomorrow, Tai faces Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. The two have faced each other six times, with Tai beating the world No. 21 in all six matches. Tai on Sunday reached the final of the Yonex Thailand Open before losing decisively against Carolina Marin of Spain.
LOOKING TO REPEAT: World No. 7 Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the round-of-16 at the Toyota Thailand Open, after winning the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday Taiwan’s world No. 7 duo yesterday eased past the US’ world No. 37 pairing at the Toyota Thailand Open to reach the round-of-16 in Bangkok. Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin beat Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew 21-14, 21-11 in just 24 minutes. Lee and Wang, who won the men’s doubles title at the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday, next face the world No. 34 pairing, Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura. In men’s singles, Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen again beat Thailand’s world No. 45 Suppanyu Avihingsanon, after edging past the Thai player in the opening round of the Yonex
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant described new teammate James Harden as “incredible” after the guard recorded a triple-double on his debut for the team in their 122-115 NBA victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday night. Harden on Thursday joined the Nets from the Houston Rockets to reunite with Durant — his former teammate at Oklahoma City Thunder — and the duo looked dominant in their first game together with the Brooklyn team. Durant scored a season-high 42 points while Harden, the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2018, became the seventh player in NBA history to register a triple-double in his debut
Three new COVID-19 cases yesterday hit the Australian Open’s troubled buildup as a backlash grew against international tennis players flown in during a raging pandemic. Two of the new cases were players, state health officials said, taking the total infections to seven since more than 1,000 people arrived in largely COVID-19-free Australia on charter flights last week. The Victoria Department of Health and Human Services said that the two players and a third person associated with the tournament — a woman in her 20s, and two men in their 30s — had returned positive results. The year’s first Grand Slam, delayed three weeks,