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Sports

Draws all round for Germany's Europa sides

Hanover and Stuttgart both battled to 2-2 draws, in thrilling opening group encounters with Europa League opposition. Meanwhile, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen each had goalless results.

While Hanover started out poorly, FC Twente showed just why they have notched up five victories out of five in the Dutch league.

Their first chance came after just seven minutes when Willem Janssen got a toe to Dusan Tadic's reverse pass and put the ball under Ron-Robert Zieler.

The first half ended goalless, somehow, with Twente demonstrably better. However, the Dutch widened the gap after 54 minutes, when Belgian Nacer Chadli took a free kick that went in, deflected off Jan Schlaudraff.

Hope came on 67 minutes, when Hanover substitute Artur Sobiech found himself free to put in an assist from Konstantin Rausch, burying it squarely in the back left of the net.

Leverkusen's striker Stefan Kiessling and Kharkiv´s Papa Gueye vie for the ball

Metalist managed to frustrate Leverkusen throughout

On 73 minutes Hanover found themselves level, thanks to an own goal from Twente captain Peter Wisgerhof, inadvertently guiding in a cross from Rausch.

Shaky ending for visitors

It looked as though it could have been in vain on 81 minutes when the ball fell to Dedryk Boyata, who fluffed his kick. Indeed, Hanover were riding their luck to the end, giving away far too many chances that Twente failed to capitalize upon.

"They honestly deserved the point," said Hanover coach Mirko Slomka, referring to his side’s comeback.

Leverkusen appeared the better side against Ukrainian visitors Metalist Kharkiv, but they weren't able to make the difference count on paper.

The greatest opportunity came when Karim Bellarabi failed with two chances stopped by Ukrainian keeper Olexandr Goryainov on 82 minutes. A follow-up by substitute Andre Schürrle hit the bar, typifying a frustrating night for Leverkusen.

"A point at the beginning is not enough," said Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender. "We created some good chances and if we had taken advantage of them we could have scored three or four."

Early excitement at Stuttgart

In action earlier in the night, drama came at either end of the match in Stuttgart, where the home side scored early on, only to have it swiftly cancelled out by Steaua Bucharest.

Georg Niedermeier of Stuttgart celebrates his team's second goal

There was big relief when Niedermeier scored, though the keeper could have done more

The wonder start came thanks to a well-placed cross between the defenders from Stuttgart's Tamas Hajnal, which allowed Vedad Ibisevic to head in from close range on five minutes.

Celebrations among the Stuttgart faithful were short-lived. The visiting side responded almost instantly as Stuttgart keeper Sven Ulreich rushed out without getting the ball. That allowed Adrian Popa to tee up Alexandru Chipciu, who had an easy job putting it away.

After that it was largely even for the rest of the first half and the second half did not begin nearly so eventfully as the first. Defense were shaky on both sides though, and Stuttgart could have taken the lead through Brazil-born Germany forward Cacau in the 60th minute when he headed onto the bar.

Some late nail-biting

That miss seemed all the graver when substitute Raul Rusescu scored clinically from the penalty spot on 80 minutes after Ulreich was cautioned by the referee for his foul.

Borussia Monchengladbach's forward Patrick Herrmann (R) challenges AEL Limassol's defender Marcos Airosa

There were chances at both ends, and even a penalty for Gladbach, but to no avail

The late equalizer came with a header from Georg Niedermeier, who flicked it in thanks to a cross from Cacau and a moment of ineptness from the keeper. Cacau again hit the woodwork in the dying moments, and it was to end 2-2.

In Cyprus, Borussia Mönchengladbach had a lively start against Cypriots AEL Limassol, although nothing like as frantic as at Stuttgart. Gladbach striker Mike Hanke hit the woodwork on five minutes and had another shot on goal on the quarter of an hour mark. It wasn't all one way traffic though, with AEL enjoying their chances as the first half ended goalless.

The big chance of the second half came seven minutes into extra time, when Oscar Wendt stepped up to take a penalty after Paulo Sergio's foul. He missed, hitting the woodwork and leaving the scoreline at 0-0 - the disappointment allayed only by the thought of a point away from home.