Celtic and Liverpool began their Europa League campaigns with a point apiece away from home, while, in North London, Tottenham received a scare from Azerbaijani side Qarabag before running out comfortable 3-1 winners.
Liverpool travelled to Bordeaux without a number of first-team regulars, including Christian Benteke and James Milner, but Brazilian Philippe Coutinho returned to the starting line-up, and went close inside eight minutes when his shot flew wide of the left upright, before later rattling the post with an effort from 25 yards.
However, Willy Sagnol’s team were more than a match for Brendan Rodgers’ Reds in the first half, and had numerous chances to take the lead, notably through striker Diego Rolan, who shot over in the 11th minute, and Tunisian midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who was unable to beat goalkeeper Simon MIgnolet after a driving run into the box on 44 minutes.
The Anfield side’s class in attack eventually told when Adam Lallana brilliantly nut-megged defender Pablo and curled a shot inside the right post in the 65th minute.
Subsitute Danny Ings then had the chance to finish the game, but was unable to beat Carrasso in the Bordeaux goal with a right-footed shot. Ings’ miss did not go unpunished, as Brazilian substitute forward Jussie finished well into the top of Mignolet’s net after strike partner Enzo Crivelli was allowed to juggle the ball in the box.
At White Hart Lane, Tottenham initially fell behind to a penalty from Brazilian, Richard, after debutant Kieran Trippier fouled left-back Ansi Agolli in the box.
The Azerbaijani’s lead lasted only 20 minutes, as new signing Son Heung-min tapped in Andros Townsend’s corner at the near post.
Son’s second arrived two-and-a-half minutes later, when the impressive Dele Alli slipped away from his marker and fed the South Korean, who scored low into the left corner from six yards.
The second half was a quieter affair until Erik Lamela grabbed a much-needed goal with a clever chipped finish over goalkeeper Sehic on 86 minutes, giving Spurs an opening three points.
Ronny Delia’s men were looking to bounce back from an early Champions League exit after a 4-3 aggregate loss to Malmo, and were ahead inside eight minutes when Nir Bitton fired low to the left corner from just inside the box, beating Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen after good build-up play from Kris Commons.
However, the Bhoys failed to build on their early advantage and were punished on 25 minutes when a classy backheel from Ajax captain Davy Klaassen fell to forward Viktor Fischer, who fired past Craig Gordon from 25 yards into the bottom right corner.
The Scottish champions were back ahead just before half-time, when right-back Mikael Lustig headed home Commons’ out swinging corner, benefitting from some poor marking and questionable goalkeeping by Cillessen.
Celtic could have been out of sight by the 60th minute, but striker Leigh Griffiths shot wastefully wide from Commons’ cross.
The turning point in the match came when Hoops left-back Emilio Izaguirre was sent off for two bookings halfway through the second half.
Frank de Boer’s side made the extra man pay and grabbed an equaliser late on when substitute Lasse Schone’s wicked free-kick from the left deceived Gordon and flew into the far right corner.
Elsewhere, perhaps the shock of the evening came in Celtic’s group A where Norwegian side Molde FK defeated fancied group winners Fenerbahce in Turkey, despite finishing the game with ten men, after goalscorer Mohamed Elyounoussi was sent off.
In the other half of Liverpool’s group, Swiss team FC Sion defeated Russian side Rubin Kazan 2-1, after two goals from Senegalese forward Moussa Konate.
Spurs’ next opponents, Monaco, drew with Anderlecht in Belgium, after a goal each from midfielders Adama Traore and Guillaume Gillet respectively.
Club Brugge, who were recently knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester United, suffered another heavy loss as they went down 5-0 to one of the favourites for the tournament, Napoli. Dries Mertens helped himself to a first half brace, and was later joined on two goals for the night by winger Jose Callejon as the men from Naples ran out comfortable winners.
And Borussia Dortmund left it late to beat Russian side FC Krasnodar, as defender Park Joo-ho scored to give the Germans a 2-1 home win.
Player of the night: Dries Mertens (Napoli)
Team of the night: Molde FK
Goal of the night: Viktor Fischer (Ajax)
— AFC Ajax (English) (@AFCAjax_EN) September 18, 2015