Turks beat Israeli visitors in tense Europa League tie

Egemen Korkmaz celebrates scoring for Besiktas against Maccabi Tel Aviv during Thursday's Europa League clash.

Story highlights

  • Maccabi Tel Aviv lose 5-1 in trip to face Turkish club Besiktas in Europa League
  • Match played against a back-drop of rising tensions between Turkey and Israel
  • It passes with few problems, though protesters demonstrate outside ground
  • European football's secondary tournament begins group stage after qualifying rounds
Some big-name clubs were in action in European football's second-tier competition on Thursday, but most attention was focused on Istanbul for the visit of little-fancied Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
In a match played against a backdrop of escalating tensions between Turkey and Israel, the home team Besiktas triumphed 5-1 in the opening round of the Europa League tournament.
With Turkey having announced the expulsion of Israel's ambassador last week and the suspension of military agreements following a naval incident in May, there were fears the match might not go ahead.
But despite some anti-Israel protests outside Inonu Stadium, the match passed relatively peacefully after Besiktas took the lead in the third minute through Portuguese striker Hugo Almeida, who doubled the advantage before half an hour had been played.
Maccabi, 18-time Israeli champions but third in the league last season, pulled a goal back through Roi Kehat's header four minutes after halftime but could not manage a first victory in the club's fifth meeting with Turkish opposition.
Besiktas -- fifth in last season's Turkish Super Lig and winners of the domestic cup before club officials were arrested in a match-fixing investigation -- hit back immediately through Mehmet Aurelio and Egemen Korkmaz, while Brazilian substitute Edu added the fifth goal two minutes from time.
In the other Group E tie, Dinamo Kiev had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with English side Stoke City.
Ognjen Vukojevic's late goal canceled out Cameron Jerome's 55th-minute opener in Ukraine to deny the visitors victory in the club's first European outing in 37 years.
Last season's losing finalists Braga beat English debutants Birmingham 3-1 away in Group H, while Belgium's Bruges won 2-0 at home to Slovenia's Maribor.
Atletico Madrid, who won the 2009-10 title, cruised to a 2-0 win at home to Scottish side Celtic -- playing after Swiss club Sion lost an appeal after fielding ineligible players.
Striker Falcao scored a record 17 goals in the competition last season as Porto won the title, and he opened the scoring with an early header for his new Spanish club. Brazilian midfielder Diego sealed victory in the second half.
In the other Group I match, Italy's Udinese won 2-1 at home Rennes.
In Group A, English club Tottenham drew 0-0 away to Greece's PAOK Salonika, who missed a first-half penalty which had to be retaken.
Russia's Rubin Kazan won 3-0 away to Irish minnows Shamrock.
Danish titleholders Copenhagen lead Group B, winning 1-0 at home to Ukraine's Vorskla Poltava after dropping down from the Champions League qualifiers.
Germany's Hannover drew 0-0 at home with Belgian runners-up Standard Liege.
PSV Eindhoven, European champions in 1988, won 1-0 at home Poland's Legia Warsaw while Romania's Rapid Bucharest triumphed by the same score away to Hapoel Tel-Aviv of Israel in the other Group C tie.
Italian side Lazio were surprisingly held 2-2 at home by Romania's Vaslui in Group D, while Portugal's Sporting Lisbon won 2-0 away to Swiss club Zurich.
Big-spending French club Paris St. Germain won 3-1 at home to Austria's Salzburg in Group F, while Spanish side Athletic Bilbao won 2-1 away to Slovakia's Slovan Bratislava.
In Group G, Dutch club AZ Alkmaar beat Sweden's Malmo 4-1 and Ukraine's Metalist Kharkiv came from behind to win 2-1 away to Austria Vienna.
Maccabi Haifa gave Israel some joy with a 1-0 win at home to AEK Larnaca of Cyprus in Group J, while Steaua Bucharest and Germany's Schalke battled to a stalemate in Romania.
English club Fulham, losing finalists in 2010, drew 1-1 at home with that season's Dutch champions Twente in Group K -- where Denmark's Odense head the standings after winning 3-1 away to Poland's Wisla Krakow.
In Group L, Belgian side Anderlecht trounced AEK Athens 4-1 as Argentine striker Matias Suarez scored a hat-trick, while Russia's Locomotiv Moscow won 2-1 in Austria against Sturm Graz.