Czech champions FC Viktoria Plzeň edged a seven-goal thriller against Bosnian and Herzegovinian counterparts FK Željezničar in this evening's UEFA Champions League second qualifying round first leg in Plzen.
The statistic that says Pavel Vrba's team will take a single-goal lead to Sarajevo next Tuesday does scant justice to a remarkable encounter in which all the scoring came in the second half. For all Viktoria Plzeň's first-half dominance, they had to wait until after half-time to find the net through Marián Čišovský, Daniel Kolář (2) and František Rajtoral. Yet Amar Osim's visitors mustered three vital away goals – including Tomislav Tomić's 52nd-minute opener – from their three attempts on target to confound the hosts.
Željezničar also owed their strong hand in the tie to the first-half heroics of goalkeeper Adnan Hadžić, who made a hat-trick of saves from Plzeň No9 Stanislav Tecl as well as frustrating Milan Petržela. On that evidence it was against the run of play that Tomić broke the deadlock seven minutes after the interval. Appropriately the goal came on the counterattack, yet Viktoria heads were quickly lifted by the double introduction of Jan Kovařík and Tomáš Wágner. A run of three home goals in 13 minutes ensued: first Čišovský equalised in the 63rd minute, then Kolář struck on the rebound from a Václav Procházka shot before proceeding to register his second from Wágner's assist.
However, having finally come to terms with Željezničar at one end of the pitch, Plzeň were undone at the other, conceding a 78th-minute free header to Vernes Selimović. A similar pattern emerged after Rajtoral had bundled in the Czechs' fourth goal, as Sead Bučan almost immediately reduced the visiting side's deficit to just one goal amid poor Plzeň defending. Exhilarating stuff for the neutral observer, but Viktoria may rue those defensive lapses when they visit Bosnia and Herzegovina on 23 July.