Beşiktaş JK defender İbrahim Toraman headed his team to a 1-0 second qualifying round first-leg victory against stubborn Moldovan visitors FC Sheriff.
The 2006/07 Turkish runners-up have played in the UEFA Cup group stage for the last three seasons but are aiming to reach the UEFA Champions League proper after a four-year absence. Their ambition was shown by the fielding of four new signings - goalkeeper Rüstü Reçber, wingers Rodrigo Tello and Mehmet Yozgatlı plus French midfielder Edouard Cissé - as well as academy products Serdar Özkan and İbrahim Kaş in a revamped lineup under new coach Ertuğrul Sağlam. However, for 75 minutes Sheriff custodian Serghei Pascenco kept Beşiktaş at bay before Toraman struck.
Matias Delgado and İbrahim Üzülmez were the most dangerous players for Beşiktaş in the first half, but the former was denied by a fine Pascenco save on 35 minutes before the goalkeeper also frustrated Tello moments from the break. Batuhan Karadeniz, aged 16, came on for Delgado in the second half but Sheriff were holding on when Ricardinho's corner was turned in by Toraman. Aleksei Kuchuk nearly grabbed an away goal three minutes from the end but the reliable Rüstü proved equal to the shot. Sheriff, who have fallen at this stage for the last six seasons, are far from out of the tie ahead of the return a week tonight.