AMSTERDAM – A handful of Americans clocked in for Europa League playoff round openers on Thursday night, with Hannover 96 skipper Steve Cherundolo setting up the first goal in a 5-3 victory at Polish side Śląsk Wrocław.
The veteran right back worked his way to the touchline before cutting back for Leon Andreasen to start the goal carnival after just seven minutes. Hannover would blow a two-goal to allow the hosts level near the hour, but scored twice in the final 10 minutes to claim a big first leg victory.
Elsewhere, Josh Gatt returned from injury with a solid shift as Molde FK topped visiting Heerenveen 2-0. Though he did not take part in the scoring, the young winger displayed ample ability to run at defenders from a higher-level league during his 82 minutes of play.
Rosenborg midfielder Mikkel Diskerud ably patrolled central park as the visitors rallied near the death for a 1-1 draw at Legia Warsaw. The midfielder – who has not seen yellow for 64 domestic games – was booked for the second time in three career Europa League outings.
Jozy Altidore and AZ Alkmaar came up empty in a tight 1-0 loss against Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia. In a game of few chances, the US striker went the distance without a single shot on goal.
Finally, Terrence Boyd worked the final eight minutes as Rapid Vienna fell 2-1 late at PAOK.
All the ties will switch locales for deciding matches next Thursday night, with the group stage draw set for the following afternoon.