FK Neftci Baku 1-3 Inter Milan
Inter travelled to Baku Thrusday to face Azerbaijani side Neftci in the first continental group stage match hosted by the former Soviet republic.
Despite a lineup comprised of many youngsters, the Italian giants wasted no time in asserting their dominance, monopolizing possession en route to a breakthrough strike on 10 minutes. Fredy Guarin burst down the right and pulled across the face of goal for Philippe Coutinho, who neatly heel-flicked the ball into the back of the net mid-gallop.
Minutes later the young Brazilian again put his silky footwork on display, beating two defenders in the box, but looked dumbfounded when the referee waved play on after he appeared to have been fouled.
Neftci threatened slightly when a free kick from Mahir Sukurov bounced menacingly in front of Samir Handanovic, but Flavinho could not get on the end of it and the chance went begging.
Inter would extend their lead twice before half, turning on the class and exposing their Azerbaijani opposition's inexperience. On 30 minutes, Joel Chwukuma Obi bagged his maiden Inter goal when the Nigerian side-footed home from the center of the area on a Guarin assist identical to that of the first score. 12 minutes later, Marko Livaja brought the Nerazzurri 3 clear of the home side with a diving header from a deflected Guarin through ball.
Neftci ran out for the second half with attacking intent, pulling a goal back on 53 minutes when Nicolas Canales tapped in at the back post from Julius Wobay's off-target effort following a series of stepovers.
However, the Baku squad would come no closer for the rest of the match, as the introduction of Andrea Rannochia for the visitors closed down space in the offensive third.
The Beneamata nearly grabbed another goal in the closing stages of the match via the creativity youth-team player Luca Garritano, but Guarin was unable to hit the target.
Inter now sit even with Rubin Kazan for the Group H lead on 4 points.
SerieAzzurri Calcio Man of the Match: Fredy Guarin, Inter (2 assists; 4 dribbles won; 4 tackles)
Lazio 1-0 NK Maribor
Lazio welcomed reigning Slovenian PrvaLiga champions Maribor to the Olimpico on Thursday for their Europa League Group J clash.
In a scintillating start to the match Maribor keeper Jasmin Handanovic, the older cousin of Inter Milan's Samir Handanovic, was forced to parry a scorching effort from Hernanes after only 12 seconds.
The Slovenians hit back soon after with a Zeljko Filipovic header from a corner, but second choice Lazio net-minder Albano Bizzari made a fantastic save to preserve the deadlock.
Antonio Candreva came agonizingly close to opening the scoring on 18 minutes, but his shot from a tight angle caught the post and was denied entry much to the Italian's personal dismay.
The Aquile again were frustrated minutes later when Ederson poked home a low cross from Candreva at close range, but the offside flag was unerringly raised by the linesman. The Brazilian celebrated with exhilaration for almost an entire 60 seconds before taking note of the official's decision.
Moments before the half, Candreva was body checked into the adboards surrounding the pitch by a raging Marcos Tavares, who was shown a yellow card for his indiscretion.
After both sides wasted glorious chances in the opening minutes of the second period, Lazio finally broke through on 60 minutes. Floccari controlled a Lorik Cana lofted ball wonderfully at the near post, and his shot was palmed by Handanovic directly into the path of Ederson, who gleefully slammed in the rebound to put the home side on top.
In the 76th minute Floccari was at the center of the action again, bringing down a long ball in the box and shielding possession from Jovan Vidovic to win a penalty and have the Slovenian dismissed on a red card. Hernanes stepped up to take the spot-kick, but Handanovic brilliantly guessed right and beat away the Brazilian international's low effort. Clearly, penalty saving runs in the Handanovic family.
Maribor attempted to salvage a point in the closing stages, but were shut out at a man disadvantage as Lazio held on for the win.
Lazio now sit atop Group J on 4 points.
SerieAzzurri Calcio Man of the Match: Lorik Cana (85% passing; 85 touches; 6 tackles)
PSV Eindhoven 3-0 Napoli
Napoli returned to Europa League action Thursday against PSV Eindhoven at the Philips Stadion, fielding a rotated lineup with the prolific Edinson Cavani starting on the bench, while playmaker Marek Hamsik sat out a suspension.
After the two sides traded chances in the opening exchanges, PSV broke through after only 19 minutes due to comical Napoli defending. Antonio Rosati rushed off his line to claim a long ball, but collided with Federico Fernandez, leaving Jermaine Lens with an easy tap in to an open net.
The Partenopei went end-up after conceding, as the Dutch began hammering away at the Napoli net. Rosati made a great save to keep out Atiba Hutchinson, while Paolo Cannavaro made a last ditch clearance to keep Lens from doubling PSV's advantage.
Napoli's defending proved to be in vain, however, and Dries Mertens volleyed in a second goal after Luciano Narsingh skipped past two Azzurri men on the right and crossed in for the Belgian to score.
Walter Mazzarri desperately replaced Omar El Kaddouri with Cavani at half, but the match had already all but escaped the visitors. Marcelo broke free of his mark on a Mertens corner on 52 minutes, and made no mistake in taking his chance on the head to put PSV up 3-0.
Lorenzo Insigne finally created a decent chance for Napoli by sending Cavani clear in the 59th minute, but Boy Waterman held his ground and put the Uruguayan off, the Matador firing wide of the mark.
Rosati found himself under siege in the last 15 minutes of the match, facing 9 shots and requiring all his skill just to keep the scoreline from getting out of hand as his teammates racked up 4 additional yellow cards.
With the loss, Napoli now lie in second place in Group F even on 3 points with PSV.
SerieAzzurri Calcio Man of the Match: Dries Mertens, PSV (86% passing; 7 shots; 1 goal; 1 assist)
Liverpool 2-3 Udinese
Underperforming Udinese travelled to Anfield for a tough test against Liverpool on Thursday in Group A action.
Antonio Di Natale returned to the starting lineup after missing out over the weekend following a row with coach Francesco Guidolin. The Friulani ran out in an unfamiliar 3-4-3 formation with Pablo Armero and Roberto Pereyra partnering the captain up front.
Each side had a solid chance in the early moments of the match, but Sebastian Coastes and Mehdi Benatia were both denied by excellent keeping from Zeljko Brkic and Pepe Reina.
The Merseysiders took the lead on 23 minutes when Benatia was caught out by a Stewart Downing cross, and Jonjo Shelvey headed home from a marauding run into the box.
Udinese were under concerted pressure for the rest of the half, but held out well to go into the break down 1-0.
Andrea Lazzari stepped in for Armero to begin the second period, and the substitution immediately paid dividends for Guidolin's men. The Italian engaged in neat interplay with Di Natale straight from kickoff, the move culminating with the captain smashing in the equalizer from the center of the box with only 33 seconds gone!
Brendan Rodgers brought on regular starters Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez for extra offensive firepower with the match now level again. Soon after, the Uruguayan volleyed goalward, but Shelvey excruciatingly cleared the ball off of Brkic's line for the Bianconeri.
At the other end, Liverpool encountered more pain when Lazzari curled in a free-kick, and Sebastian Coates scored a beautiful header into his own team's net to give the visitors a shock lead in the 70th minute.
Udinese piled on the misery only two minutes later to the disgust of an eviscerated Anfield crowd. Di Natale shielded the ball from two Liverpool defenders in the box, juggled daringly with his back to the net, and laid on for Giovanni Pasquale to fire a blistering shot into the far corner from outside the area.
Liverpool came roaring back however, with Suarez hitting a wonderful free-kick on 75 minutes that left Brkic with no chance, curling into the top left corner to reduce the deficit to one.
The home side poured forward in the closing stages hoping to secure a draw, but courageous keeping by Brkic and audacious team defense by the Friulani slammed the door shut to secure an historic victory for Udinese at Anfield.
The win brings Udinese level on 4 points in Group A with Anzhi Makhachkala, good for a share of first place.
SerieAzzurri Calcio Man of the Match: Antonio Di Natale, Udinese (1 goal; 1 assist)