My summer vacation cut into the time I had to discuss results from last week’s opening legs. We reviewed the first day of matches but not the second. So here’s a quick recap of what happened. One of the ties that I was most interested in saw a meeting of the 2006/07 Slovakian champions MSK Zilina and Czech runners-up SK Slavia Praha. The first leg was played in Zilina and the home side provided excitement with an attacking display that had put seven goals past Luxembourg’s F91 Dudelange in the opening round. Despite finishing with ten men, Slavia’s first competitive match of the season saw them hold on to a goalless draw.
Vladimír Šmicer made his comeback appearance for Slavia on the hour mark. Šmicer, who left the club for RC Lens in 1996 and went on to win the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup with Liverpool FC, made his entrance from the bench having overcome a knee injury he picked up last season while playing in Ligue Une with FC Girondins de Bordeaux. Slavia are in good shape to move forward with the return leg being held in Prague.
Turkish club Besiktas defeated FC Sheriff by a score of 1-0. Besiktas defender Ibrahim Toraman’s late header secured a win. Moldovan side FC Sheriff fought hard in a tough away fixture but were caught napping on a corner kick with eighteen minutes to go. Toraman was able to sneak in at the near post and slot home a precision header.
Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb pulled out a 2-1 victory over Slovenian title-holders NK Domzale. Tomislav Sokota and Luka Modric’s penalty put Dinamo in command before letting up and conceding a goal that gives Domzale a flicker of hope. The return leg is in Croatia so they have a steep hill to climb. Highlights from the match can be found here.
FK Crvena Zvezda (also called Red Star Belgrade) defeated Estonian champions Levadia Tallinn 1-0. Ognjen Koroman scored the only goal on a long shot that one could argue the keeper should have stopped. The scoreline flattered Tallinn a bit as Red Star had many chances to score and their lack of finishing kept the match in doubt.
Rosenborg BK took control of their tie with FC Astana by winning the first leg 3-1 in Kazakhstan. Rosenborg, back in this competition after missing out for the first time in 12 seasons last year, had two goals from Yssouf Koné and a converted penalty from former Tottenham forward Steffen Iversen.
Finally, Belarus-based FC BATE Borisov recovered from conceding an early goal to Icelandic side FH Hafnarfjördur to win 3-1. FC BATE return hom with a two-goal edge (including three away goals) and should be able to advance comfortably.