A René Aufhauser hat-trick gave FC Salzburg a three-goal lead after the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie against FK Ventspils in Riga.
Salzburg take charge
Ventspils, who defeated Welsh outfit The New Saints FC to reach this stage, enjoyed a bright start and created the first chance when Jean-Paul Ndeki headed Mihails Zizilevs's corner just wide on 14 minutes. However, within five minutes the Latvian club found themselves behind when Aufhauser reacted first to turn in a rebound after goalkeeper Pavels Davidovs could only parry Alexander Zickler's low drive. Davidovs did well to save from Johan Vonlanthen shortly afterwards but could not do much with 26 minutes on the clock when Vonlanthen's corner was met perfectly by the head of Aufhauser.
The second half began in a similar vein with the visitors in control. Aufhauser, Vonlanthen and Karel Pitak all went close to extending the lead, while brief respites saw Igor Tigirlas and Vits Rimkus miss fine chances at the other end. Ventspils' miserable night was completed eight minutes from time when Aufhauser competed his hat-trick, coolly converting a penalty after Zizilevs had impeded Markus Steinhöfer. Ventspils may yet have taken a glimmer of hope with them when they travel to Austria next Wednesday, but they were denied as an added-time effort from Rimkus struck the crossbar.