Azerbaijani champions Neftçi PFK could hardly have wished for a better start in their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie against FC Zestafoni, comfortably beating their Georgian counterparts 3-0 in Baku.
Two goals in two minutes midway through the first half by Cavid Imamverdiyev and Julius Wobay put the hosts in a commanding position, before Nicolas Canales pounced on 63 minutes to seal an emphatic win.
An exciting start brought important saves from both goalkeepers inside the first ten minutes. Roin Kvaskhvadze was alert to Bruno Bertucci's shot after Rashad Sadigov's free-kick to prevent Zestafoni going behind after just four minutes, and five minutes later Neftçi's Rauf Mehdiyev blocked Jaba Dvali's flicked effort from a corner to do the same for his side.
The home side took the lead on 22 minutes, Canales putting Imamverdiyev through on goal with a headed pass and the forward finishing really well. Two minutes had elapsed when Neftçi doubled their advantage, Wobay dribbling in from the right wing and firing the ball inside the near post.
Zestafoni started the second half better and controlled possession for long periods, with Neftçi happy to sit back and play on the counter. The hosts' tactics reaped reward, taking their opponents by surprise with a rare foray forward midway through the second half, and Canales exploiting a fumble by Kvaskhvadze to seal the win.
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