PFC CSKA Moskva have one foot in the UEFA Champions League group stage after a 3-0 win over Slovakian champions MFK Ružomberok in Moscow.
After a goalless first half, Croatian striker Ivica Olić struck twice inside six minutes around the hour before a late third from Brazilian Vágner Love put a convincing gloss on the scoreline – and left Ružomberok with a mountain to climb going into the second leg on 23 August.
CSKA may not have broken through until the second half but they underlined their intentions from the off, pinning Ružomberok inside their own half. Visiting goalkeeper Ľuboš Hajdúch looked nervous as he fumbled an early Daniel Carvalho effort and that set the tone for an uncertain display from the custodian.
Olić lobbed Hajdúch in the 27th minute but his strike missed the target and Brazilian striker Joao Alves De Assis Silva was next to threaten the Ružomberok goal, turning the ball wide of the far post after being supplied by Carvalho. The same player then set up Miloš Krasić but again the shot went wide.
Olić heads home
Carvalho is serving a three-match domestic ban but he underlined his importance to CSKA when from another fine ball into the box, the Muscovites finally made the breakthrough in the 59th minute. After Yuri Zhirkov won a free-kick, Carvalho crossed and the unmarked Olić headed in.
CSKA coach Valeri Gazzaev had been on the point of replacing Olić but instead it was Jo who made way for Vágner Love. The substitute made a swift impression, providing the low cross from which Olić added his second in the 65th minute. Then, with seven minutes remaining, Vágner Love grabbed a goal of his own, collecting a pass from Olić and beating Hajdúch with ease.