FC Dinamo Tbilisi effectively put one foot into the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round following a comfortable 3-0 victory against KF Tirana behind closed doors at the Boris Paichadze stadium in the Georgian capital.
Dinamo were serving a one-match ban following bottle throwing incidents during their UEFA Cup first round second-leg match against Czech side FC Slovan Liberec last season. However, despite the absence of fans the hosts quickly forced their Albanian opponents on to the back foot.
Levan Melkadze scored the first goal of the 2003/04 Champions League season when he tapped in from close range after six minutes following Lado Akhalaia's cross. The goal provided the perfect start not only for the home side but for Melkadze, who was making his debut after signing from FC WIT Georgia in recent days.
The early goal settled Dinamo, and they deservedly doubled their advantage in stoppage time of the first half when George Anchabadze rounded Ndubuisi Egbo in the Tirana goal to score after latching on to Melkadze's accurate through-ball.
The Georgian champions added their third goal five minutes after the restart when Vitali Daraselia fired into the net from the penalty spot after Akhalaia was deemed to have been fouled. Tirana threatened to hit back on the hour when they were awarded a spot-kick after Saimir Patushi was fouled by Vladimer Burduli. However Dinamo 'keeper Irakli Zoidze saved Indrit Fortuzi's effort to deny the Albanians a crucial away goal.
Austrians await victors
The return leg takes place in the Albanian capital next week, with the aggregate winners facing Austrian side Grazer AK in the next stage of the competition.