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Two Eduardo Da Silva goals helped NK Dinamo Zagreb make giant strides towards the next stage of the UEFA Champions League with a 4-1 second qualifying round first-leg victory against FK Ekranas in Lithuania.
Da Silva got Josip Kuže's men off to the best of starts as early as the seventh minute before further strikes from Marijan Buljat, Da Silva again and Davor Vugrinec put paid to the home side's brief equaliser. Da Silva scored the opener after taking advantage of a misunderstanding between defender Arunas Klimavičius and goalkeeper Arvydas Skrupskis to steal the ball and make it 1-0.
The hosts appeared shell-shocked by the turn of events, yet one of their few forays forward brought them an equaliser. Egidijus Varnas charged down the wing before serving a teasing cross into the area, which Ekranas’s leading goalscorer Povilas Lukšys headed in off the crossbar.
Despite conceding so unexpectedly, Dinamo were in control and went ahead again on 31 minutes, when Vugrinec played in Buljat, and the midfielder held off a challenge from Gediminas Paulauskas before scoring from just inside the area. Towards the end of the half, Ekranas did have chances to level, but both Vaidotas Slekys and Varnas missed their opportunities.
Dinamo were in even more dominant mood after the break and could have added to their lead on 48 minutes when Luka Modrić hit the crossbar with a shot from distance. Four minutes later, though, Dinamo did grab the third, as they capitalised on another Ekranas defensive lapse, which allowed Da Silva to race between two defenders and confidently fire past Skrupskis. The fourth goal came as a result of a quicksilver counterattack, Etto providing an pinpoint cross from the right for Vugrinec to finish from seven metres out in the 70th minute.
Understandably, there were contrasting reactions from the two camps after the match with Ekranas coach Virginijus Liubsys conceding defeat in the tie already. "It was a catastrophic showing by our defence," he said. "This tie is decided now." Dinamo coach Josip Kuže added: "I am happy with the result but not entirely satisfied with how we performed. We committed too many mistakes."
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