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LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala and Zenit St Petersburg opened up commanding first-leg advantages in their Europa League last 32 ties when they beat Hanover 3-1 and five-times European champions Liverpool 2-0 respectively on Thursday.
Samuel Eto'o, four-times African player of the year who has won the Champions League three times with Barcelona and Inter Milan, was on target and missed a penalty for big-spending Anzhi after Hanover had taken the lead midway through the first half.
The Germans drew first blood when Hungarian Szabolcs Huszti scored only for Eto'o to level after 34 minutes and Odil Akhmedov to put Anzhi in front three minutes after the restart.
Eto'o missed a penalty just short of the hour mark but Mbark Boussoufa gave the Russians a sizeable 3-1 lead after 64 minutes.
Hulk's unstoppable swerving effort from 30 metres broke the deadlock for Zenit after 69 minutes and Sergei Semak poked home three minutes later to break Liverpool's resistance after the Premier League club's striker Luis Suarez had spurned several chances.
European champions Chelsea were in action against Sparta Prague later on Thursday while Europa League holders Atletico Madrid play against Russians Rubin Kazan in one of the late kickoffs. (Reporting by Tom Pilcher, Editing by xx)