Late goals denied AC Milan and Udinese victories in the first legs of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 ties, while Fiorentina and Sampdoria have work to do in the away legs next week after losing on home soil.
A Filippo Inzaghi strike wasn't enough for Milan as Werder Bremen earned a late draw to take to the San Siro. Also on Wednesday, Denys Oliynyk scored the only goal to give Ukrainian outfit Metalist Kharkiv a shock 1-0 win at Sampdoria.
Ajax took a smash-and-grab win from their trip to Fiorentina on Thursday with a goal from Kennedy Bakircioglu while Udinese let slip a two-goal lead in Poland as they drew 2-2 at Lech Poznan.
WERDER BREMEN 1-1 AC MILAN
Diego denied AC Milan victory in the away leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie against Werder Bremen, but they could feel satisfied at having earned a 1-1 draw after Filippo Inzaghi handed them a 36th-minute lead. Milan were without a number of top players including Ricardo Kaka, Gennaro Gattuso and Alessandro Nesta while on-loan David Beckham started the game on the bench. Inzaghi nonetheless opened the scoring for the Rossoneri, with Juventus target Diego finally equalising for Bremen after 84 minutes following several great chances for the home side. Inzaghi had earlier hit the woodwork and the hosts almost snatched a winner at the death when Massimo Ambrosini headed against his own crossbar.
FIORENTINA 0-1 AJAX
Kennedy Bakircioglu scored the only goal on the hour mark as Ajax won 1-0 in Florence to seize the initiative in their Round of 32 tie against Fiorentina. It had been one-way traffic for much of the night at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, but Bakircioglu's strike against the run of play showed the home team the way to goal. The Viola were unable to respond and missed a hatful of chances to leave themselves with it all to do in Amsterdam next week as they look to better last season's run to the semi-finals.
SAMPDORIA 0-1 METALIST KHARKIV
A Denys Oliynyk header in first-half added time was enough to see Metalist Kharkiv record a shock 1-0 voctory at Sampdoria in the first leg tie in Genoa. After a cautious start by both teams, Metalist threatened after 20 minutes when Jaja drilled in a long range shot which Samp's Luca Castellazzi did well to save. The visitors went closer still five minutes later when Valentyn Sliusar sent a miscued shot over the bar, while Jaja continued to try his luck from distance. Just when it looked as if it was going to end all-square at half-time, Metalist broke the deadlock as Oliynyk rose highest in the box to head home Olexandr Rykun's cross from the left. There was intense second-half pressure from the homse side but it's Metalist who are firmly in the driving seat for next week's return match.
LECH POZNAN 2-2 UDINESE
Lech Poznan came from two goals down to claim a home draw against Udinese in snowy conditions, but the visitors will remain favourites to progress to the last 16 of the UEFA Cup. Fabio Quagliarella had put Udinese in front early in the second half before an own goal from Lech defender Manuel Arboleda gave Pasquale Marino's side a two-goal cushion soon after. However, the Serie A side were pegged back in the last ten minutes as Hernnn Rengifo reduced the arrears before Arboleda made amends for his defensive miscue to nod in the equaliser to leave the tie all-square ahead of next Thursday's decider at the Stadio Friuli.
UEFA CUP RESULTS
Round of 32 First Leg
Wednesday 18 February
Aalborg 3-0 Deportivo La Coruna
Aston Villa 1-1 CSKA Moscow
Bordeaux 0-0 Galatasaray
Braga 3-0 Standard Liege
Dynamo Kiev 1-1 Valencia
NEC Nijmegen 0-3 Hamburg
Olympiakos 1-3 Saint-Etienne
Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Wolfsburg
Sampdoria 0-1 Metalist Kharkiv
Werder Bremen 1-1 Milan
Zenit St. Petersburg 2-1 Stuttgart
Thursday 19 February
Copenhagen 2-2 Manchester City
Fiorentina 0-1 Ajax
Lech Poznan 2-2 Udinese
Marseille 0-1 Twente
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Tottenham Hotspur
UEFA CUP FIXTURES
Round of 32 Second Leg
Thursday 26 February
Ajax v Fiorentina (1945)
CSKA Moscow v Aston Villa (1700)
Deportivo La Coruna v Aalborg (2000)
Galatasaray v Bordeaux (1830)
Hamburg v NEC Nijmegen (1715)
Manchester City v Copenhagen (1945)
Metalist Kharkiv v Sampdoria (1700)
Milan v Werder Bremen (1945)
Saint-Etienne v Olympiakos (1955)
Standard Liege v Braga (1945)
Stuttgart v Zenit St. Petersburg (1945)
Tottenham Hotspur v Shakhtar Donetsk (2000)
Twente v Marseille (1730)
Udinese v Lech Poznan (1945)
Valencia v Dynamo Kiev (2030)
Wolfsburg v Paris Saint-Germain (1800)