Inter Milan open Europa League with gritty win; PSV sink Estoril
Three-time European champion Inter Milan opened its Europa League campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win away to Ukrainian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on Thursday.
Defender Danilo D’Ambrosio scored moments after Dnipro captain Ruslan Rotan was sent off.
D’Ambrosio made up for an earlier miss when he latched onto Artem Fedetskiy’s botched clearance and fired powerfully past goalkeeper Denys Boyko in the 71st minute, with Rotan sent off three minutes earlier for a second yellow card.
Midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic and captain Fredy Guarin also missed earlier chances for Inter, which won the Champions League in 2010.
The other Group F match saw St Etienne draw 0-0 at Qarabag.
Algeria striker El Arbi Soudani scored a first-half hat-trick as Dinamo Zagreb claimed an impressive 5-1 win over Astra Giurgiu.
Two headers and an unmarked tap-in from Soudani made it 3-0 at the break before substitutes Angelo Henriquez – on loan from Manchester United – and Ante Coric added second-half strikes either side of Aurelian Chitu’s consolation for Astra.
And with Salzburg and Celtic drawing 2-2 in the other game in the Group D, goals from Alan (36) and Jonathan Soriano (78) cancelling out efforts from visiting duo Mubarak Wakaso (14) and Scott Brown (60), Dinamo are the early leaders in the standings.
Zagreb’s win was by far the most convincing of the early matches, which otherwise went largely as predicted with few major upsets.
Apollon Limassol are the early pacesetters in Group A after beating FC Zurich 3-2 thanks to an 87th-minute own goal from Philippe Koch. In an incident-packed match, Limassol took a 2-0 lead through Fotis Papoulis (nine) and Marcos Gullon (40) only for Avraham Rikan (50) and Gilles Yapi Yapo (53) to draw Zurich level soon after the break.
Both teams also finished with 10 men, Gullon (80) and Yassine Chikhaoui (90) getting their marching orders either side of Koch’s decisive own goal.
Meanwhile, substitute Ikechukwu Uche’s 68th-minute equaliser earned Villarreal a 1-1 draw at Borussia Monchengladbach, who took a 21st-minute lead through Patrick Herrmann.
Mathias Jorgensen scored both of FC Copenhagen’s goals in their 2-0 Group B win over HJK Helsinki, the Denmark defender netting in the 68th and 81st minutes with his team-mate Andreas Cornelius missing a penalty in between.
That put FCK top of the group with Club Brugge and Torino sharing a a goalless draw in Belgium.
It was also 0-0 between Partizan Belgrade and Tottenham in Group C, where the other game between Besiktas and Asteras Tripoli finished 1-1. Gokhan Tore put Besiktas ahead in the 33rd minute but substitute Facundo Parra netted an 88th-minute leveller for the visitors.
PSV Eindhoven, UEFA Cup winners in 1978, started their group stage with a 1-0 win as Luuk De Jong’s 26th-minute penalty was enough to see off Estoril, while also in Group E Dinamo Moscow beat Panathinaikos 2-1 in Athens.
Two of Russia’s World Cup squad this summer, Aleksandr Kokorin (40) and Aleksei Ionov (50), put Dinamo in charge and Pana could only pull a goal back through Athanasios Dinas.
Infrormation from The Associated Press was used in this report.