A dazzling display brought Sevilla FC four goals and an impressive victory against SK Slavia Praha on a night when the UEFA Cup holders rediscovered their best form in scintillating fashion.
After they lost at Arsenal FC on Matchday 1, the pressure was on the Spanish side in their first home UEFA Champions League match, yet Frédéric Kanouté eased any nerves with a fine first goal after only eight minutes. Although Daniel Pudil swiftly levelled, Luis Fabiano restored Sevilla's advantage just before the half-hour and second-half goals from Julien Escudé and substitute Arouna Koné crowned a fine win. David Kalivoda's added-time strike could not stop Sevilla moving into Group H contention.
The home crowd had been waiting impatiently for the arrival of UEFA Champions League football at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium and the opening 45 minutes did not disappoint. Within the first five, Luis Fabiano had sliced a clear chance wide after Marek Suchý's error and the impressive Seydou Keita had stung the hands of visiting keeper Martin Vaniak, although these proved to be mere appetisers.
Following four successive defeats in all competitions, Sevilla were in need of inspiration and Kanouté provided it, scoring the Andalusians' first UEFA Champions League goal. The striker's effort was suitably spectacular: he raced on to a long Jesús Navas pass and, after flicking the ball so wide of Vaniak that scoring seemed impossible, produced a stunning long-range chip that found the only available part of the goal.
Slavia shuddered, steadied themselves and responded eleven minutes later. A terrific one-two between Matej Krajčík and Petr Janda enabled the latter to beat Ivica Dragutinović to the touchline and cut the ball back for the lurking Pudil, whose left-foot strike soared into the top corner. Navas had warned that Sevilla's recipe for success would involve imposing an extremely high tempo and so it proved.
Back in front
Despite the pouring rain and Slavia's attempts to keep the ball, Juande Ramos's men were rampant, regaining the lead in characteristically incisive style on 27 minutes. Keita won possession deep in his own half and played a 30-metre pass to Kanouté, who in turn back-heeled the ball for the overlapping Luis Fabiano to skip round Vaniak and roll the ball into an empty net.
With Slavia chasing a second equaliser, the second half quickly brought opportunities for both Stanislav Vlček – whose two goals against AFC Ajax had sent the Czech club into the group stage – and Tijani Belaid but neither forced Andrés Palop into action. Instead, with confidence coursing through the locals, a third goal for Sevilla came as no surprise. Escudé applied an emphatic finish from close range after Keita had flicked on Adriano's corner.
With the points secure, Ramos felt sure enough to withdraw Luis Fabiano, whose replacement Koné soon made his presence felt, running on to Kanouté's through ball to slot in Sevilla's fourth. Slavia did at least have the last word on the night, their own substitute Kalivoda thumping in after Palop had blocked Milan Ivana's shot. It was scant consolation for the visitors.