By Margus Luik
Estonian champions FC Levadia Tallinn kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign with a 1-0 win against Georgian title-holders FC Dinamo Tbilisi thanks to a first-half penalty from midfielder Konstantin Nahk.
Both teams started slowly in intense heat, but the hosts began to take the initiative and put on a positive, attacking display in the first half. On 28 minutes, Marius Dovydenas and Konstantin Vassiljev linked beautifully to supply Vitali Leitan, whose penalty claim was waved away by referee Mark Courtney. A minute later, Dinamo midfielder Lasha Nozadze forced Artur Kotenko into a fine one-handed save with a shot from distance.
As half-time approached, Levadia picked up the pace once again and attacked with renewed vigour, Nahk's free-kick being well stopped by Zviad Sturua four minutes before the interval. Soon after that escape, referee Courtney awarded a penalty to Levadia after Dinamo captain Sergi Orbeldaze elbowed Vitoldas Cepauskas as they competed for a corner, and Sturua was left helpless by Nahk's low spot-kick.
Kotenko clean sheet
Dinamo were determined to level after the break and their pressure lasted most of the second half, with right-sided midfielder David Odikadze creating two promising moments for the visitors. The best chance, though, fell to Levan Melkadze whose close-range header was brilliantly kept out by Kotenko. Dinamo continued to control the play, but Levadia defended well and remain on course for a second qualifying round tie with Michael Laudrup's Brøndby IF.