FC Steaua Bucureşti kicked off their UEFA Champions League qualification attempt with a comfortable 3-0 home victory over FK Vardar in this second qualifying round first leg.
First-half goals from Cristian Tănase and Mihai Doru Pintilii, plus an Igor Pavlović own goal on the stroke of half-time, ensured that Steaua, the 1986 European champions, claimed a 100th win from their 265th match in the UEFA club competitions. Vardar have a mountain to climb in Skopje next Tuesday.
This was a game that Laurenţiu Reghecampf's men dominated from the start, and the visitors from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were forced into some desperate defending as early as the fifth minute when Stefan Nikolić had a shot blocked on the line. After the latter player had been denied again, by goalkeeper Pavlović, Tănase broke the deadlock in the 12th minute – firing home after Adrian Popa had hit the post.
Nine minutes later it was 2-0 as Pintilii buried Alexandru Bourceanu's corner with a diving header. Vardar's situation got even more desperate two minutes into first-half stoppage time when another Popa effort struck the upright, rebounded off the back of the helpless Pavlović and rolled into the net.
The goalkeeper gained a modicum of revenge with a fantastic second-half save from the same player, which he then followed with a superb stop from Gabriel Iancu. Federico Piovaccari's miss from close range also enabled Blagoja Milevski's team to keep the scoreline at 3-0.