FC Artmedia Petržalka are firm favourites to advance in the UEFA Champions League after winning the away leg of their second qualifying round tie 3-1 against Tampere United.
The Slovakian champions began strongly and opened the scoring on the counterattack ten minutes in through Zbyněk Pospěch. Although Jari Niemi struck a smart equaliser soon after, parity lasted just a minute as Branislav Obžera fired Artmedia back in front. Finland's finest battled gamely as they attempted to come from behind again, yet a lovely individual goal from Juraj Piroska four minutes from time settled the match – and in all likelihood the tie with the return to come next Wednesday.
Tampere may have produced the more attacking football at the Ratina Stadium but it was Artmedia's ability to start and finish strongly which proved decisive. The visitors had wasted a gilt-edged chance in the opening minute before Pospěch found the net, and they were also ruthless when scoring from the restart after Niemi had poked in Henri Myntti's pass in the 17th minute. Niemi and Antti Pohja missed opportunities to draw Tampere level for a second time, leaving Piroska to have the last word as he dribbled through the Tampere defence before stroking in his side's third.
Draw on Friday
The last time Artmedia reached the third qualifying round, in summer 2005, they sensationally eliminated Celtic FC to become only the second Slovakian team to contest the group stage. Whether they can repeat those heroics next month may well decide on Friday's draw for the next stage in Nyon.