Birkirkara FC gained a slender but valuable advantage in their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie against MŠK Žilina, Nikola Vukanac's first-minute goal giving the Maltese titleholders a second successive home win in the competition.
Last week's aggregate defeat of FC Santa Coloma put Paul Zammit's team in this stage for the first time, and they needed less than 60 seconds to make their mark. Shaun Bajada's powerful free-kick was only parried by Martin Dúbravka in the Žilina goal and the alert Serbian defender Vukanac was on hand to tap in to give his team the edge ahead of next week's return in Slovakia.
Birkirkara were made to work hard for their win, however, with Issiaka Bello pulling the strings in midfield for the visitors, but some disciplined defending ensured the home team reached half-time with their lead intact. It was a similar story after the interval, yet still Žilina were unable to find a way through and will have to overturn the deficit at the Pod Dubňom Stadium next Wednesday.