SK Sturm Graz go into their home encounter against FC Zestafoni next week with a slender advantage following a 1-1 draw in Tbilisi.
The Georgian side thought that they had stolen a march on Frank Foda's charges when Nikoloz Gelashvili broke the deadlock after 74 minutes of this UEFA Champions League third round qualifying first leg. However, Patrick Wolf's strike four minutes later levelled the tie and gives Sturm the precious advantage of an away goal.
The hosts began positively and came close to taking the lead after 12 minutes when Giorgi Oniani sent his header wide from Tornike Aptsiauri's free-kick. Gia Geguchadze's team continued to press and were twice denied by goalkeeper Christian Gratzei before half-time. The Sturm No1 first repelled Gelashvili's rasping shot from the left and, moments later, turned Shota Grigalashvili's long-range effort wide after a corner had only been half-cleared.
Grigalashvili came even closer midway through the second half when he crowned a smart team move with a ferocious shot from 25 metres that crashed back off a post. Zestafoni's pressure paid off eight minutes later when Gelashvili was put through on goal with a wonderful pass by Kakhaber Aladashvili.
Indeed, the 25-year-old striker should have doubled his tally within two minutes only to miss an open goal after tricking his way past Gratzei. The hosts paid dearly for that miss four minutes later when Wolf dispossessed Oniani to score against the run of play.
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