Inter Milan, Athletic Bilbao on track
Former Champions League winners Marseille suffered a scare in Moldova but a Jordan Ayew double helped them see off Sheriff in their Europa League play-off first leg.
The Moldovan league leaders had stunned their illustrious opponents when Tomislav Pajovic struck a 27th-minute equaliser in Tiraspol to cancel out Ayew's 18th-minute opener.
But the French side battled back and Ayew grabbed his second eight minutes into the second half to give Elie Baup's men a slender advantage heading back to the Stade Velodrome next week.
It was a bad night for Eredivisie sides in the competition with AZ Alkmaar, Heerenveen and FC Twente all falling in first legs away from home, while Feyenoord had to stage a great escape to salvage a 2-2 home draw with Sparta Prague.
Feyenoord looked to be heading for defeat when Vaclav Kadlec scored twice in four first-half minutes for the visitors, but Miquel Nelom pulled a goal back on the hour and Anass Achahbar snatched an unlikely draw three minutes into injury time.
AZ were beaten 1-0 in Moscow by Anzhi Makhachkala after Lacina Traore's 51st-minute strike, Heerenveen slumped 2-0 to Molde in Norway, while Twente blew an early lead to go down 3-1 in Turkey to Bursaspor, for whom Pablo Batalla scored twice.
Last year's losing finalists Athletic Bilbao delivered an emphatic statement of intent as they hammered Finnish side HJK 6-0 at the Estadio San Mames.
Aritz Aduriz opened the scoring in the 25th minute and the tie was effectively over before half-time after further goals from Markel Susaeta and Inigo Perez.
Aduriz added his second six minutes into the second half before next week's second leg was rendered a formality by further strikes from Susaeta and Andoni Iraola.
Inter Milan had no problems seeing off Vaslui 2-0 in Romania, a goal in each half from Esteban Cambiasso and Rodrigo Palacio giving them a comfortable advantage ahead of the return in the San Siro.
And Serie A rivals Lazio are also heavy favourites to progress after goals from Hernanes and Miroslav Klose gave them a 2-0 win at Mura 05, who are still winless after six games of the new Slovenian season.
Hannover 96 had to bank on a pair of late goals from Leon Andreasen and Manuel Schmiedebach to emerge as the victors in an action-packed eight-goal thriller at Slask Wroclaw.
Andreasen and Jan Schlaudraff had put the Germans 2-0 up inside the first half-hour and despite Thomasz Jodlowiec reducing the deficit, Lars Stindl restored the two-goal advantage before half-time.
Wroclaw came out firing for the second half and drew level before the hour mark with gaols from Sylwester Patejuk and Przemsylaw Kazmierczak, before the two strikes in the last eight minutes finally swung the game Hannover's way.
PSV Eindhoven made up for a generally dismal night for their Dutch rivals as they thrashed Montenegro's Zeta 5-0 in Podgorica.
Ola Toivonen opened the scoring after two minutes but the Dutch giants had to wait until the 74th minute for the floodgates to open with further goals from Tim Matavz, Kevin Strootman, Jeremain Lens and Mark van Bommel.
Sporting Lisbon needed a late equaliser from Andre Carrillo to salvage a 1-1 draw with Horsens in Denmark, while Bordeaux take the momentum into the second leg after a goalless draw with Red Star in Belgrade.
Ryan Taylor spared Newcastle's blushes with a fine free-kick to give them a slight advantage as they drew 1-1 in the away leg of their clash with Atromitos.
A year and three days after he fired the Magpies to derby victory at Sunderland, he produced a set-piece of similar quality in first-half injury time to cancel out Denis Epstein's 24th-minute opener and ensure that his side returned to Tyneside knowing a victory of any description, or even a 0-0 draw, will send them through to the group stage.
That may have been less than manager Alan Pardew's ambitions before kick-off but, having made nine changes to the side which beat Tottenham 2-1 at the weekend, he saw his side put in a distinctly ordinary opening 45 minutes after which a draw was not the worst result.
Pardew, whose side face a tough trip to Chelsea on Saturday, handed striker Adam Campbell a late cameo and, in the process, made him the club's youngest European debutant at 17 years and 236 days - 64 days younger than Andy Carroll was when he played in Palermo.
Shaun Hutchinson was sent off as Motherwell suffered an all-too-familiar 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their clash with Levante.
Just like their Champions League clash against Panathinaikos at Fir Park, Well conceded a soft first-half goal before being caught out after a spell of sustained pressure of their own.
Levante, who finished sixth in La Liga last season after briefly topping the table in late October, pushed Motherwell back in the first half but they were gifted a 42nd-minute opener as Juanlu ran from deep to net as the home defence waited for an offside flag.
Well improved significantly and Henrik Ojamaa had two good chances but the visitors carved out a second for substitute Nabil El Zhar in the 62nd minute and killed the game off before Hutchinson was dismissed for a last-man challenge.