Midfielder Joe Cole scored the quickest European goal in Liverpool's illustrious history to set his under-strength side up for a 4-1 victory over Steaua Bucharest at Anfield.
Hodgson praise for Cole
Cole took just 25 seconds of their opening Europa League Group K match to find the net for his first strike since joining on a free transfer from Chelsea in the summer. Cristian Tanase equalised for the Romanians in the 13th minute but David Ngog took his tally to five in as many games in this competition and substitute Lucas Leiva scored the other for a victory which was not as easy as the scoreline suggested. In the same group, FC Utrecht earned a valuable point in a goalless draw against Napoli.
Manchester City's Europa League campaign started in confident fashion as Roberto Mancini's side secured a 2-0 victory away at Red Bull Salzburg.
City have been somewhat unconvincing in their past two league games - drawing 1-1 with Blackburn and losing 1-0 to Sunderland - but Mancini enjoyed a more productive night in Austria, with summer signing David Silva and forgotten man Jo on target.
Silva struck after just eight minutes when teed up by the Brazilian striker. The midfielder, who joined the club from Valencia this summer, swept the ball into the far corner with an accomplished finish. Jo turned finisher on 63 when a shot from Carlos Tevez was parried by Gerhard Tremmel in the Salzburg goal. It was the striker's first goal for the club since a Premier League win over Portsmouth two years ago.
Also in Group A, Italian giants Juventus were held to a dramatic 3-3 home draw by unheralded Polish side Lech Poznan.
Two goals from Artjoms Rudnevs (14, 30), the first of which came from the penalty spot, gave Lech a shock lead in Turin. However, Giorgio Chiellini struck either side of half-time and Juve's all-time record goalscorer Alessandro Del Piero put the club in front. But Rudnevs snatched a memorable hat-trick in the dying seconds to deal the Bianconeri an unexpected setback.
Holders Atletico Madrid suffered a losing start to the defence of their crown after slumping to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Aris Thessaloniki. Spaniard Javito struck a brilliant winner midway through the second half for the Greek side, who kept their unbeaten European home record intact and burst Atletico's early-season bubble.
Patrick Helmes scored a hat-trick to lead Bayer Leverkusen to a comfortable 4-0 victory at home over Rosenborg in Group B, with Stefan Reinartz getting the other goal.
Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb surprised ten-man Villarreal 2-0. Ante Rukavina gave the home side an 18th-minute lead before the Spanish side had Marcos Senna dismissed for a second booking in the 74th minute. Jorge Sammir then grabbed the second five minutes later to seal the win.
Stylianos Malezas struck with a 78th-minute header to snatch a 1-1 draw for PAOK Salonika against Club Brugge at Jan Breydel Stadium.
A last-gasp equaliser from Balazs Dzsudzsak secured a point for PSV in a 1-1 draw against Sampdoria. Fabrizio Cacciatore's header had given the visitors the lead but Dzsudzsak's low shot from the edge of the area finally ended Gianluca Curci's resistance in the Sampdoria goal. Meanwhile, Debrecen were hammered 5-0 by FC Metalist Kharkiv away from home.
Lille continued a largely disappointing week for French teams in Europe, losing 2-1 at home to Sporting Lisbon, with Pierre-Alain Frau's goal all they could muster after Simon Vukcevic and Helder Postiga had put the visitors 2-0 up. Levski came from behind to beat Gent 3-2. The Bulgarian side had not beaten a Belgian team in six attempts prior to this contest at the Georgi Asparuhov Stadium. But goals from Joaozinho, Garra Dembele and Sergio Greene enabled them to end that record and inflict a seventh successive European away defeat on Gent.
Impressive Porto made a winning start with a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Rapid Vienna. The Portuguese giants dominated large portions of the contest against their Austrian rivals and were not flattered by the scoreline, provided by goals from Rolando, Falcao and Ruben Micael. Fabian Ernst's last-minute header earned Besiktas a 1-0 home victory against CSKA Sofia.
Borussia Dortmund wasted a two-goal lead and came back with two goals in the final three minutes for an amazing 4-3 victory at Karpaty Lviv of Ukraine in Group J. And Paris St Germain enjoyed the ideal start after stunning highly-fancied Sevilla 1-0 at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Nene struck the only goal of the game 14 minutes from time.
In Group F, Palermo's disappointing start to the season continued as they lost 3-2 at Sparta Prague. Bony Wilfred nodded in Sparta's first goal in the 17th minute as the hosts enjoyed a flying start. Palermo's summer signing Massimo Maccarone equalised in the 38th minute but Jiri Kladrubsky put the Czechs back in front shortly after the hour mark. With 15 minutes remaining, Vaclav Kadlec added his team's third before Abel Hernandez gave the Italians a lifeline with seven minutes remaining.
Vagner Love scored twice to lead CSKA Moscow to a convincing 3-0 victory over Lausanne. The Brazilian's brace, the second of which was from the penalty spot, came either side of a Sergei Ignashevich header, to sink the Swiss outfit and put CSKA top of the group.
Stuttgart began their Europa League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Young Boys. Christian Gross' side opened the scoring through a 23rd-minute penalty from skipper Cacau after his strike partner Pavel Pogrebnyak was fouled in the area by Alain Nef. The hosts had to wait until the hour mark to double their advantage through Christian Gentner before Germany international Serdar Tasci poked home an injury-time corner to cap a comfortable night. Javier Arizmendi scored a goal at both ends as Getafe came from behind to beat Odense 2-1.
A stunning first-half hat-trick from Alexander Kerzhakov got Zenit St Petersburg a 3-1 win over Anderlecht in Belgium. While Nikos Liberopoulos spared the blushes of team-mate Rafik Djebbour as AEK clinched three points in their opening Europa League Group G encounter with a 3-1 victory over Hadjuk Split.
AZ Alkmaar took the early advantage in Group E, beating FC Sheriff 2-1. Dynamo Kiev had to settle for a point as they were held to a 2-2 draw by BATE Borisov in an entertaining game at the Lobanovskiy Stadium.