Turkish side Denizilispor restricted AC Sparta Praha to a single goal in the Czech Republic to keep their first UEFA Cup campaign very much alive.
The visitors to the Letná stadium produced a disciplined defensive performance in the first leg of their second-round tie, and most of Sparta's chances came from set-pieces.
Heinen on hand
Sparta's first opportunity did come from open play eleven minutes in, when Tomáš Hübschman's low cross found Michal Pospísil unmarked in front of goal, but Denizilispor's German goalkeeper, Dirk Heinen, cleared the ball off the line. However, Heinen was beaten by a 19th-minute Jirí Jarosík free-kick, the ball taking a deflection off the wall which surprised the visiting custodian to put Sparta ahead.
Goalkeeper denies Sparta
Despite this setback, the visiting defence continued to restrict Sparta to dead-ball chances, Heinen blocking another Jarosík free-kick, and also saving Karel Poborský's effort five minutes from the break.
Visitors go close
Home goalkeeper Jaromír Blazek, defending a record of 605 minutes without being beaten, almost conceded early in the second half, but Hübschman was on hand to clear Henrich Bencík's shot off the line after a mix-up at the back for Sparta.
Narrowest of leads
Denizilispor looked more and more comfortable as time ran out, Poborský's shot wide after a fine solo run the only clear chance for Sparta in the second half, leaving them only with the narrowest of leads going into the second leg in two weeks' time in Denizli.
Sparta coach Jozef Jarabinský, who has led four Turkish teams in his career, said: "We did not manage to continue in our creative style after half-time. Our fans are disapointed, but victory without conceding a goal is not a bad position for the return game."
Denizlispor's Riza Calimbay was also satisfied with the result. "As newcomers in Europe we played well against strong opposition today," he said. "I hope we win at home to reach the third round."
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