Status and reputation counted for nothing when Zenit St Petersburg and Middlesbrough dented the UEFA Cup hopes of Olympique Marseille and tournament favourites AS Roma on Thursday.
Zenit will take a 1-0 lead back to Russia for the second leg of their last-16 tie after Andrei Arshavin's second-half goal sank 2004 runners-up Marseille.
Nigerian Aiyegbeni Yakubu's first-half penalty gave Middlesbrough a single-goal advantage over injury-hit Roma at a rain-lashed Riverside stadium.
Marseille had France under-21 midfielder Franck Ribery sent off at the Stade Velodrome as Zenit stunned the former European champions.
Russia midfielder Arshavin scored with a fine curling shot on 51 minutes.
Ribery was dismissed 20 minutes from time for a second yellow card and Zenit almost grabbed a second when substitute Oleg Trifonov's shot crashed against the crossbar.
Roma, Europe's in-form team after setting a Serie A record of 11 successive league wins but hit by injuries to strikers Francesco Totti and Vincenzo Montella, offered little attacking threat to Middlesbrough.
Yakubu netted the only goal early on after Italy under-21 keeper Gianluca Curci, standing in for injured Brazilian Doni, had brought down striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
"A great European performance, full of experience, concentration and discipline," Boro manager Steve McClaren told ITV.
"We got an early goal...I was disappointed we couldn't get a second.
"It's half a job done, the tie is evenly balanced. We are capable of scoring away from home."
Rapid Bucharest, who started in the first qualifying round in mid-July, have a good chance of reaching the last eight after goals from Daniel Nicolae and Mugurel Buga earned a 2-0 win over Hamburg SV.
The prolific front-pair have hit eight goals apiece in this season's competition.
Hamburg, who should have been full of confidence after their weekend Bundesliga win over Bayern Munich, had Dutch international Nigel de Jong sent off on 67 minutes for two bookings.
Rapid captain Vasile Maftei was also dismissed late on.
Lille midfielder Geoffrey Dernis scored direct from a corner to hand the French Ligue 1 side a 1-0 victory at home to Sevilla.
After striker Matt Moussilou hit the crossbar early on, Dernis's 24th-minute flag kick sailed in after keeper Antonio Notario misjudged the flight.
The Spaniards were left to rue a succession of missed chances with striker Frederic Kanoute also rattling the woodwork from long range.
A rugged defensive display by Real Betis secured a 0-0 draw in the Romanian capital against former European champions Steaua Bucharest.
An ill-tempered game yielded eight yellow cards, six awarded to Betis players.
The Primera Liga side held sway in the opening half and although chances fell to Nicolae Dica, Mirel Radoi and Banel Nicolita, Steaua failed to convert any.
UEFA Cup debutants Palermo will take a slender advantage to Gelsenkirchen next week after Franco Brienza's goal earned the Sicilians a 1-0 victory over 1997 winners Schalke 04.
The striker took advantage of a lively start by the home side to score in the 15th minute, firing in at the near post after midfielder Paul Codrea had threaded a pass through a crowded area.
Schalke went close to an equaliser but striker Soren Larsen's looping header over keeper Mariano Andujar struck the base of the post.
In other ties, Swiss league leaders Basel overcame Racing Strasbourg 2-0 while Udinese were held 0-0 at home by Levski Sofia.
The return legs are next week. The final is in Eindhoven on May 10.