Manchester City’s millionaires club cruised to a 2-0 win over Red Bull Salzburg while mighty Juventus struggled to a 3-3 draw with Lech Poznan as the Europa League enjoyed a goal-packed start on Thursday.
Forty goals were scored in the night’s opening 12 matches with two players – Poznan’s Artjoms Rudnevs and Patrick Helmes of Leverkusen – scoring hat-tricks.
David Silva grabbed his first goal for Manchester City since his 40 million euro move from Valencia in the summer as Roberto Mancini’s team took the lead in Austria after just eight minutes.
The goal was set up by Brazilian striker Jo, who went on to score the second in the 63rd minute after Salzburg keeper Gerhard Tremmel failed to hold a 20-metre drive from Carlos Tevez.
City share the same Group A as Juventus, the former two-time European champions.
The Italians were given a huge scare by Poznan who were 2-0 ahead after 30 minutes thanks to Latvian striker Rudnevs.
Juve centre-back Giorgio Chiellini pulled one back on the stroke of half-time at the Stadio Olimpico and then levelled the score five minutes later.
Veteran skipper Alessandro Del Pierro looked to have sealed Juve’s comeback by making it 3-2 after 68 minutes with his 52nd career goal in European competition.
But Poznan rallied to grab a point when Rudnevs completed his hat-trick in the last minute.
Defending champions Atletico Madrid suffered a 1-0 defeat at Aris Salonika with Spanish striker Javito hitting a long-distance winner on the hour mark.
The win extended Aris’s record of never having lost at home in Europe – a run of 22 games.
In the same Group B, 26-year-old Helmes was the toast of Leverkusen in their 4-0 mauling of Norway’s Rosenborg. Stefan Reinartz scored the other goal for the German side.
CSKA Moscow, who won the old UEFA Cup in 2005, began their campaign with a 3-0 win at Lausanne with Brazilian striker Vagner Love scoring two of the goals.
Later Thursday, Liverpool open their group campaign with a home clash against fellow former European champions Steaua Bucharest at Anfield.
Russia’s Zenit Saint Petersburg, the 2008 champions, are at experienced European campaigners Anderlecht.
Sevilla, the 2006 and 2007 UEFA Cup champions welcome Paris Saint-Germain while FC Porto, the Champions League winners in 2004, are at home to Rapid Vienna.
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