AMSTERDAM — Several American Exports kicked off Europa League group play on Thursday, highlighted by Jozy Altidore stealing the show with a long-range cracker to open AZ Alkmaar's 4-1 Group G rout of visiting Swedish champs Malmö FF.
In the 22nd minute, the US striker collected a loose ball with his back to the area before turning just enough to unleash a swerving rocket into the top corner. Altidore now has six strikes in his last five home games, all AZ victories by a combined 21-2 margin.
Elsewhere, Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht also raced to the top of their group with a rude 4-1 treatment of guests AEK Athens.
The former Chivas USA man helped set up the final goal — and the third from Matías Suárez — with a fine steal-and-dish. The Mauves are now unbeaten in five European matches against Group L foe AEK within the last five years.
Oguchi Onyewu put in another tidy performance as Sporting CP assumed the perch in Group D with a 2-0 victory at FC Zürich.
In Group K, Fulham ace Clint Dempsey went close to scoring twice after the break and saw late yellow in a 1-1 share with FC Twente.
Hannover 96 skipper Steve Cherundolo switched to left back for a 0-0 stalemate with Group B visitors Standard Liège.
Meanwhile, Brad Friedel wasn't in the gameday roster for Tottenham Hotspur in their scoreless draw at PAOK Salonika.
And the lone Yank on the wrong end of the scoreline was Jonathan Spector, who went 90 minutes in Birmingham City's 3-1 loss to SC Braga, last year's beaten finalists.