Grazer AK 2-0 FC Sheriff Tiraspol (Grazer win 6-1 on aggregate)
A final qualifying round showdown with FC Lokomotiv Moscow is Grazer AK's reward for completing a professional two-legged victory against FC Sheriff Tiraspol with a 2-0 home triumph tonight.
The tie was all but won after the Austrians' tremendous showing in Moldova last week, where they won 4-1, and tonight’s game at the Arnold Schwarzenegger stadium was played at a casual pace more befitting of a friendly.
It took 33 minutes for the first chance worthy of the name to arise, René Aufhauser heading wide following good wing play from Dieter Ramusch. Three minutes later Gregor Pötscher shot narrowly wide from distance, a warning of what was to come in the second half.
Even though the home side dominated proceedings in the opening half, Sheriff would have stolen an unlikely advantage had Marius Ciubankan’s fine free-kick not struck the crossbar. Grazer reaped a deserved reward after the break, however, when Pötscher scored from distance in the 58th minute and Mario Bazina made it 2-0 with two minutes remaining.
'Have to improve’
Grazer coach Thijs Libregts knows his side will have to improve next time out against Russian opposition if their Champions League aspirations are not be dashed at the final hurdle. "My team can play so much better," he said. "Against Lokomotiv Moscow we will have to improve, will have to show a much better performance."