An eye-catching display from Sammir helped a dominant GNK Dinamo Zagreb carve out a three-goal cushion against Malmö FF in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League play-offs.
Sammir's composed finish gave the home side an ideal start to the delight of a sell-out crowd, but Malmö drew level against the run of play thanks to Agon Mehmeti's assured finish. Dinamo continued to look the likelier scorers and duly regained the advantage early in the second period through Ante Rukavina, Sammir quickly adding a third from the penalty spot and setting up substitute Fatos Bećiraj for an 84th-minute strike that gave his side a three-goal safety net to take to Sweden next week.
Dinamo have not graced the group stage since 1998/99 but had won seven of their eight matches this season and took the lead within four minutes. Rukavina's pass set Jerko Leko away down the right and, though the midfielder's cross was deflected away, it fell perfectly for Sammir to slot into the far corner.
Ivan Krstanović swiftly threatened a second, Daniel Andersson blocking his shot, but out of nothing the visitors pulled level in the 17th minute. Markus Halsti slid a pass through to Mehmeti and the striker cleverly cut inside Luis Ibáñez before shooting past Ivan Kelava at his near post. The home side regrouped swiftly and continued to create the better openings; by half-time they had mustered 16 shots to Malmö's one.
They failed to add to their goal tally, however, despite the near-constant threat of Sammir. Milan Badelj and Rukavina played in the midfielder for a chipped effort that landed on the top of the net, while Dušan Melichárek acrobatically tipped over the No10's volley. The goal Dinamo had been threatening finally arrived in the 56th minute, Ibáñez advancing from left-back to deliver a perfect cross that Rukavina touched in at the near post.
Having had to wait so long for a second goal Dinamo's third arrived almost instantly, Melichárek felling Sammir who picked himself up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot. Melichárek was beaten again six minutes from time as Sammir played in Bećiraj, giving Dinamo a sizeable advantage for Tuesday's second leg.