Defending champions ŠK Slovan Bratislava shook off their recent jitters to capture their eighth Slovak First League title with three matches to spare.
The capital club went into Saturday's meeting with FC ViOn Zlaté Moravce on a three-match losing streak, including defeat in the Slovak Cup final against MFK Košice at the start of the month. Nearest rivals FK AS Trenčín had kept the pressure on with a 3-0 triumph at MŠK Žilina earlier in the day and Slovan betrayed a few nerves before second-half goals from Marko Milinkovič and Filip Hlohovský saw Jozef Valovič's side home.
"It took us an hour to conquer our opponents' defense and we were nervous until we did," admitted assistant coach Jozef Kontír. "It was not our best performance, but we won and everything is now done and dusted. Now I hope we can also make a breakthrough in the Champions League." Slovan, who have an unassailable ten-point lead with three games to go, will enter in the second qualifying round.
Kontír also pointed to a number of key absentees Slovan have been shorn of, with captain Igor Žofčák, Juraj Halenár and Róbert Vittek all sidelined. "It was a nervous game, everybody could feel it, but I always believed we would do it," said the watching Vittek, the third highest scorer in the league with 12 goals.
The recent setbacks have shown that there is still work to do for the Bratislava side, Slovakia's most successful team since independence, according to Halenár. "We had two long winning streaks earlier this season and remain superior by a massive margin. But we are still not a top-ranking European team producing winning performances for the whole year," said the midfielder.
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