BELGRADE: Manchester City are in danger of an early exit from Europe after a shock 1-0 home defeat by Danish side Midtjylland in their UEFA Cup second qualifying round first-leg match on Thursday.
It was the worst possible start for City manager Mark Hughes as midfielder Danny Olsen struck in the 15th minute to give Midtjylland a good chance of progressing to the first round after the return leg in two weeks’ time.
“We needed to be more dynamic, we needed a bit more personality on the field of play,” Hughes told ITV Sport.
“I thought Midtjylland were excellent – a big, strong team who understood the counter-attack game very well.”
City’s Premier League rivals Aston Villa enjoyed a 4-1 win at Iceland’s Hafnarfjordur after Gareth Barry, Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor gave them a 3-0 halftime lead.
Denmark defender Martin Laursen headed the fourth goal for the 1982 European Cup winners after Matthias Gudmundsson had pulled one back for the home side.
Two goals by Igancio Pia and a third by Argentine striker German Denis handed 1989 UEFA Cup winners Napoli a 3-0 win at Albanian side Vllaznia while Vfb Stuttgart, their opponents in that final, laboured to a 2-1 home victory over Gyor ETO.
Early goals by Serdar Tasci and Ciprian Marica fired Stuttgart into a 2-0 lead before Zoltan Boor threw the Hungarian side a lifeline on the stroke of halftime.
Danish sides enjoyed a perfect night as Nordsjaelland won 2-1 at Scottish Division One team Queen of the South, FC Copenhagen beat Norway’s Lillestrom 3-1 and Brondby romped to a 4-0 rout at Finland’s Haka Valkeakoski.
Benjamin Kibebe and Patrice Bernier scored for Nordsjaelland either side of a Sean O’Connor goal in the first half for last season’s Scottish Cup finalists while Brondby scored three goals in the last 20 minutes to sink Haka.
Red Star Belgrade earned a 2-2 draw at Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia and Croatia’s Hajduk Split held out in a 0-0 stalemate at former Spanish champions Deportivo Coruna.
It was the second upset win for a Cypriot team over their Greek rivals in two days after Anorthosis Famagusta thrashed Olympiakos Piraeus 3-0 in their Champions League third qualifying round tie on Wednesday.
Hertha Berlin strolled to a 2-0 win at Slovenian team Interblok Ljubljana with a brace by Serbia striker Marko Pantelic, while Poland’s Lech Poznan enjoyed the biggest win of the night by hammering Grasshoppers Zurich 6-0.
The other second leg ties will also be played in the week of Aug 25 with the 16 winners advancing to the first round. – Reuters