Manchester City bagged a 2-0 victory over Denmark's Aalborg, while Italians Udinese hit holders Zenit St Petersburg with two late goals in first-leg matches in the pre-quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup.
Elsewhere on Thursday there were narrow wins for Olympique Marseille, Werder Bremen, Dynamo Kiev and CSKA Moscow, while Galatasaray earned a 1-1 draw at SV Hamburg.
Holders Zenit fell to goals by Fabio Quagliarella five minutes from time and a penalty seven minutes into stoppage play by Antonio di Natale at Italians Udinese.
The Russians ended the game with 10 men after a second booking for Roman Shirokov following the penalty award.
Ecuador striker Felipe Caicedo struck early for Manchester City and Sean Wright-Phillips added a second after half an hour as Manchester City ran out 2-0 winners over Aalborg.
Olympique Marseille were the only one of the French trio to triumph, earning a 2-1 win over Ajax who had defender Gregory van der Wiel sent off after a second booking in the 42nd minute.
Benoit Cheyrou in the 18th and Mamadou Niang in the 33rd put Olympique in control but a 36th-minute strike from Luis Suarez gives the Dutch side every chance in the return leg.
SV Hamburg were unable to overcome a 10-man Galatasaray in a 1-1 draw.
The Turkish side, who won the competition in 2000, had Emre Asik sent off in the 53rd minute for a professional foul on Mladen Petric.
The dismissal came four minutes after Marcell Jansen had levelled a 32nd-minute goal from midfielder Ayhan Akman.
Collin Benjamin came close to a winner for the Bundesliga side with a shot headed off the line and onto the bar by Mehmet Guven.
But with 12,000 fans behind them among the 52,000 crowd in Hamburg, the Turkish side defended solidly for a draw they will be pleased with for the second leg next Thursday.
"The 1-1 draw has put us in a good position but our biggest advantage are our fans," Galatasaray coach Bulent Korkmaz said in reference to the atmosphere expected next week inside the Ali Sami Yen stadium in Istanbul.
Hamburg's northern neighbours Werder Bremen earned a 1-0 win over St Etienne, courtesy of a goal in the 20th minute by Brazilian central defender Naldo, but coach Thomas Schaaf said he was disappointed with his team's performance.
"We didn't play the way we wanted," he said.
"We allowed St Etienne to come back in the game. There was no clear play in the second half and you can't be satisfied with that."
A minute's silence was observed before both games in Germany in memory of Wednesday's school massacre near Stuttgart in which 16 people were killed.
Elsewhere, tournament top scorer Vagner Love notched his 11th of the campaign with a penalty five minutes after the break to give 2005 winners CSKA Moscow a 1-0 victory over Ukraine outfit Shakhtar Donetsk.
In an all-Ukrainian duel, Dynamo Kiev edged Metalist Kharkiv 1-0 thanks a 54th-minute winner from Ognjen Vukojevic, while Paris St Germain were held to a goalless draw by Portugal's Sporting Braga.