LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool thrashed Toulouse 5-1 at Anfield, asserting their control over their UEFA Europa League section with a perfect record at the halfway mark of the group stage.
Diogo Jota opened the scoring for the hosts after nine minutes, embarking on a solo run that saw him navigate past four defenders before planting the ball into the bottom corner.
“Most of the time we were in complete control. We made good goals, nobody got hurt, perfect night,” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told TNT Sports according to AFP.
Liverpool top Group E with nine points and could seal a place in the last 16 with another win in France in two weeks.
They are five points clear of Toulouse and Belgium’s Union Saint-Gilloise, who grabbed two late goals to overcome LASK of Austria 2-1.
Brighton claimed a first European win as they beat Ajax 2-0, heaping further misery on the crisis-hit club who parted company with coach Maurice Steijn on Monday just four months into his tenure.
Four-time European champions Ajax are languishing one spot off the foot of the Eredivisie, and fell behind at the Amex Stadium just before half-time to Joao Pedro’s tap-in.
Ansu Fati rolled in a second for the hosts early in the second half to leave Roberto De Zerbi’s men a point adrift of Group B leaders Marseille.
“The first victory in Europe for Brighton. It’s a great day for our fans, our club, our owners. We are very proud to give them this day,” De Zerbi told TNT Sports.
Marseille saw off 10-man AEK Athens 3-1 at the Velodrome.
Orbelin Pineda cancelled out Vitinha’s opener for Marseille, but a moment of madness from AEK goalkeeper Cican Stankovic cost his team dearly.
Stankovic hit a pass right to Vitinha and then wrestled the Portuguese forward to the ground, conceding a penalty and earning himself a red card.
Amine Harit converted the spot-kick before Jordan Veretout tucked away another penalty for Gennaro Gattuso’s side.
West Ham lose in Greece
West Ham’s 17-match unbeaten European run came to an end with a 2-1 loss away to Olympiakos.
Kostas Fortounis struck from distance to give the Greek side the lead and Rodinei added a second before half-time with a deflected effort.
Lucas Paqueta volleyed in late consolation for the Hammers, who remain top of Group A on six points from three matches.
“We have to improve our performance. And we must rise to the occasion. I am disappointed by our first half. It was a tough match, but we carry on,” said West Ham manager David Moyes.
Freiburg is level with the Hammers after a 3-1 victory over Serbia’s Backa Topola.
Rangers relied on a fine display from goalkeeper Jack Butland in a 0-0 draw at Sparta Prague.
The Scottish side is third in Group C, led by Real Betis who won 1-0 away to Aris Limassol thanks to an Ayoze Perez goal.
Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen thrashed Qarabag 5-1 to stay perfect in Group H and continue their brilliant start to the season under Xabi Alonso.
Roma made it three wins from three in Group G, Edoardo Bove and Romelu Lukaku on target in a 2-0 victory over Slavia Prague.
In the Europa Conference League, in-form Aston Villa eased to a 4-1 win at Dutch high-flyers AZ Alkmaar.
Leon Bailey and Youri Tielemans gave Villa a two-goal lead in the first half against a side who has dropped just two points in the Eredivisie this season.
Ollie Watkins and John McGinn put the game out of reach before Ibrahim Sadiq pulled one back.
Toulouse responded seven minutes later as Thijs Dallinga perfectly timed his run from the halfway line into the box, effortlessly slotting home in the Group E clash, Reuters reported.
The rest of the match belonged to Liverpool as Wataru Endo headed them back in front just past the half-hour mark. Four minutes later Darwin Nunez extended their lead with a shot from a tight angle, capitalising on a rebound inside the box.
Nunez nearly netted again in the 65th minute but his shot from the right side of the box struck the post after a superb run. Nevertheless, Ryan Gravenberch capitalised on the rebound to score Liverpool’s fourth goal.
Three minutes into stoppage time late substitute Mohamed Salah completed the thrashing with a well-placed shot into the top corner from closer range having bemused his marker.
Liverpool leads the group by five points over Union Saint Gilloise, who beat visitors LASK 2-1, and Toulouse, with both teams on four points. LASK are bottom without a point.
Elsewhere, Olympique de Marseille overcame AEK Athens 3-1 in the Europa League with two penalties after a red card for the visiting goalkeeper, while Olympiakos Piraeus beat West Ham United 2-1 to end the Londoners’ 17-match unbeaten run in Europe.
Vitinha broke the deadlock for Marseille in the 27th minute, bundling home a short-range cross after they had squandered several earlier chances in the Group B clash.
The visitors levelled eight minutes into the second half when Orbelin Pineda received a fortunate break. Initially scuffing a cross, the ball continued into his path, and he made no mistake with the second opportunity.
However, AEK was swiftly under pressure again when their keeper, Cican Stankovic, was sent off for fouling Vitinha inside the box. Amine Harit converted the penalty at the hour mark.
Jordan Veretout made it three for the hosts in the 69th minute from the spot after Nordin Amrabat fouled Renan Lodi.
Marseille is now top of the group with five points after three matches. AEK are second with four points.