FC Sheriff began their latest tilt at securing a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 3-1 victory against ten-man KS Dinamo Tirana in the first leg of their second qualifying round tie.
Vladimir Volkov headed the hosts − winners of ten consecutive Moldovan titles − into an early lead, though it was an advantage which proved short lived as Lucas Malacarne equalised on 12 minutes. It remained that way until after the hour, when Dinamo's night began to unravel. Baćo Nikolić restored Sheriff's advantage before Elis Bakaj was shown a straight red card with 22 minutes remaining. José Nadson swiftly added a third.
Two of Sheriff's Serbian contingent combined for the opener on nine minutes, Volkov heading in Vladimir Branković's corner, before Malacarne brought the visitors level in similar fashion from Bakaj's delivery. Though Alexandr Erokhin's effort from a corner early in the second half was ruled out, Sheriff were not to be denied and restored their lead on 62 minutes when Nikolić turned in the loose ball after Dinamo goalkeeper Isli Hidi repelled Erokhin's attempt.
Things went from bad to worse for the visitors with the dismissal of Bakaj, and with the numerical advantage Sheriff needed just two minutes to make it 3-1 through Nadson's close-range finish. Andrei Sosnitski's team therefore have some breathing space going into next Tuesday's return in Albania.