NK Maribor cemented their place in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round for a third consecutive season by easing past Birkirkara FC 2-0 at Stadion Ljudski vrt.
Though the visitors occasionally threatened on the counter, Maribor always looked comfortable and built on their goalless first-leg draw in Malta by scoring a goal in each half to progress.
Birkirkara's Alejandro Moreno and home captain Tavares were the respective culprits as each side sent a good headed chance wide of the target before Maribor made their first mark on the contest. On 28 minutes Cvijanovič swept a fine low free-kick from the edge of the box past goalkeeper Justin Haber and the hosts never looked back.
Ante Čačić's men doubled their lead shortly after the break when Viler slalomed round three Birkirkara defenders and sent the ball low past Haber again with a powerful drive.
Birkirkara were in danger of letting the match slip away, and only Haber's reflexes denied Maribor a third as the goalkeeper somehow kept out Tavares's fierce volley two minutes later. It was to be a frustrating night in front of goal for the Brazilian, who later spurned a golden opportunity by slicing wide from near the penalty spot.
Collectively, though, it was a job well done by Maribor, who must now find a way past APOEL FC, surprise UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists in 2011/12, if they are to secure a play-off place for the second year running in this competition. They face the first leg in Cyprus next week.
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