Tampere United coach Ari Hjelm praised his side's efforts after their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round first-leg success against one of last season's group stage contenders, PFC Levski Sofia.
Levski beat AC Chievo Verona to reach the competition proper a year ago having previously picked up the scalps of Udinese Calcio, Olympique de Marsille and AJ Auxerre in making the 2005/06 UEFA Cup quarter-finals. However, the Finnish champions, whose first victory in the premier UEFA club tournament only came in the previous round of this season’s edition against S.S. Murata, took a 16th-minute lead last night through Tomi Petrescu and held on in rainy conditions to keep alive their dream of emulating HJK Helskini’s qualification for the group stage in 1998/99.
Levski shut out
Hjelm, whose side are on course for a second straight Veikkausliiga title, said: "We played well. Levski put pressure on us at the end, but we didn't let them get close to our goal. It was extremely important that Levski did not score an away goal." The return in Sofia is next Tuesday, but Hjelm believes Tampere can take advantage of their lead and progress to the third and final qualifying round. "It is clear that there is still a lot of work to do to qualify for the next round, but I am still confident that we can score in Bulgaria," he added.
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