FC Flora are on course to negotiate a round of European competition for the first time after an impressive win in Denmark against Esbjerg fB, while FC Vaduz of Liechtenstein proved their own UEFA Cup progress last season was no fluke.
EfB entered the UEFA Cup first qualifying round courtesy of the Fair Play draw, and faced a Flora side who had only a single draw to show from their eleven European trips in as many seasons - all of which were resulted in aggregate defeats. However, it could be 12th-time lucky as Tomas Sirevicius and Andrei Sidorenkov struck within two second-half minutes just before the hour. Fredrik Berglund's stoppage-time goal at least gives EfB some hope for their trip to Estonia a fortnight today, when all 25 second-leg ties are played.
Last year it was Vaduz finally making a European breakthrough, as they won a tie at the eleventh attempt by defeating Longford Town FC at this stage. Tonight the Swiss second division competitors gained a 2-0 win at home to Moldova's FC Dacia Chisinau, Frenchman Steve Gohouri opening the scoring on 53 minutes and Brazilian Gaspar Odirlei De Souza doubling the lead against the Moldovan team 19 minutes later.
MTZ-RIPO's dream debut
One-time Inter-Cities Fair Cup winners Ferencvárosi TC may have reached the 2004/05 group stage, but tonight they lost 2-0 at home to FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk. The Belarussian team had a dream European debut in Budapest thanks to goals from Hamlet Mkhitaryan and Vitali Tarashchik late in each half.
On a good night for Irish teams, Longford emulated the earlier achievement of Cork City FC by defeating Welsh tournament debutants Carmarthen Town AFC 2-0. Stephen Paisley scored ten minutes before the break and Barry Ferguson the same time period after the interval.
Carmarthen's compatriots Rhyl FC had a happier night, overcoming visitors FK Atlantas of Lithuania 2-1. George Horan's 12th-minute goal was added to by Lee Hunt in the 70th minute, but although the visitors then had Valdas Trakys sent off, Rimantas Zvingilas claimed a useful away goal.
Like Welsh teams, Latvia's representatives had mixed fortunes. FK Ventspils lost in Northern Ireland to an early Timothy Mouncey goal for Linfield, but domestic leaders FHK Liepajas Metalurgs overcame NSÍ Runavík 3-0, Mindaugas Kolonas's first-half goal added to in the second period by two Kristaps Grebis efforts.
B36 Tórshavn ensured Faroe Islands pride as they drew 1-1 at ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland. Although B36 saw an early lead equalised, the result was the first time they had avoid defeat in nine European trips.
Cyprus is also a happy island after both their representatives defeated Maltese opposition. Musawengosi Mguni, Jozef Kozlej and a George Vakouftsis penalty gave cosmopolitan AC Omonia a 3-0 win at home to Hibernians FC, while Nicosia rivals APOEL FC came away from Birkirkara FC 2-0 up thanks to late goals from Stavros Georgiou and Sasa Jovanovic.
Away wins were also the order of the day for two other teams. Fair Play entrants Viking FK won 2-1 at Portadown FC, Egil Østenstad's penalty giving the visitors to Northern Ireland a lead early in the second half and Peter Kopteff doubling the advantage before Vinny Arkins pulled one back from the spot in added time.
Meanwhile, Slovenia's NK Domžale made a winning European bow, 5-0 at SP Domagnano. The Sammarinese champions had no answer to two goals from Nikola Nikezic and one each by Dalibor Stevanovic, Janez Zavrl and Ales Kacicnik.
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