LONDON: Schalke, the only German team left in European competition, left Sofia with an edge after beating host Levski 3-1, while Sevilla downed Zenit St. Petersburg 4-1 in the first leg of the UEFA Cup quarterfinals on Thursday.

At Bucharest, Steaua walked away with a slight advantage after holding city rival Rapid to a 1-1 draw and FC Basel beat visiting Middlesbrough 2-0.

The second legs of the quarterfinals are scheduled for next Thursday.

Gustavo Varela, Lincoln and Gerald Asamoah scored the goals for Schalke the only remaining German team with a chance to win a European title this season.

Varela, a second-half substitute, scored the equaliser for Schalke three minutes after coming on, taking a pass from Lincoln in the 48th.

The Brazilian then made it 2-1 in the 69th by curling a shot into the top corner of the net, and Asamoah added the final goal in the 79th by knocking in a rebound after the ball bounced off the post.

Daniel Borimirov gave Levski Sofia the lead in the sixth, taking advantage of a defensive error by Hamit Altintop and shooting past Schalke goalkeeper Frank Rost.

Levski was reduced to 10 men in the 35th when Cedric Bardon got his second yellow card for bringing down Lincoln.

Bardon had his first yellow card in the 20th for taking down Asamoah. Javier Saviola scored two goals and Jose Luis Marti added another from the penalty spot for Sevilla, which had missed three penalties in its last two games.

Saviola gave the Spanish host the lead in the 15th, heading in a corner from Jordi Lopez.

The Argentine added another in the 80th.

Marti scored Sevilla's second goal from the penalty spot in the 56th after Zenit defender Erik Hagen was red-carded for bringing down Frederic Kanoute in the penalty area.

Adriano Correia scored the final goal in injury time, shortly after Zenit was reduced to nine men when midfielder Andrei Arshavin was given a red card.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored Zenit's goal in the 45th with a header. Kerzhakov, who has six goals in this competition, scored two against Sevilla in the group stage.

First at home

Banel Nicolita put Steaua in the lead in the fifth minute, stroking the ball into the net off a pass from Daniel Oprita.

The goal was the first allowed at home by Rapid in this year's UEFA Cup.

The away goal means Steaua, the 1986 European Cup champion, will advance to the semifinals if it holds Rapid to a 0-0 draw in the second leg.

Viorel Moldovan equalised for Rapid in the 50th, tapping in a loose ball after Steaua goalkeeper Carlos Alberto Fernandes failed to hold on to a shot from Emil Dica.

Nasty history

Rapid and Steaua have a nasty history, with rival fans clashing in recent years, but there was no major trouble reported from the stadium Thursday.

Matias Delgado scored the first goal for Basel in the 43rd, taking a shot from 20 metres that beat Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer after a nasty bounce.

David Degen doubled the lead in first-half injury time off a pass from Delgado Adelino Da Silva.

"We could have done even better," Degen said. "Now if we can just score another goal in England, we can wrap it up."

The results:

At Sofia: Levski Sofia (Bul) 1 (Borimirov 6) lost to Schalke 04 (Ger) 3 (Varela 47, Lincoln 69, Asamoah 79).

At Bucharest: Rapid Bucharest (Rom) 1 (Moldovan 49) drew with Steaua Bucharest (Rom) 1 (Nicolita 4).

At Basel: Basel (Sui) 2 (Delgado 43, Degen 45) bt Middlesbrough (Eng) 0.

At Seville: FC Sevilla (Esp) 4 (Saviola 15, 82, Marti 56-pen, Adriano Correia 90) bt St. Petersburg (Rus) 1 (A Kerzhakov 44). Agencies

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