Servette FC recorded what could yet prove to be a crucial 1-0 home win over SK Slavia Praha at the Charmilles stadium, Geneva, on Thursday night in the first leg of their UEFA Cup first-round tie.
The Swiss side, currently in a lowly seventh position in Nationalliga A, produced an impressive display in front of their home fans, but they were made to wait until 15 minutes from time to get the strike which gives them a slender 1-0 advantage going into next Thursday’s second leg at the Strahov stadium in Prague.
For Slavia, they will be disappointed to have made it all the way through to the latter stages of the match with a clean sheet before losing concentration in defence and paying the penalty.
Slavia, lying joint top of the Czech first division, began the game brightly, but once Servette had adjusted to their opponents’ 4-4-2 formation, it was the home side that took control of proceedings.
Fournier tests Václavík
Full-back Sébastien Fournier was the first to worry the busy Slavia goalkeeper Michal Václavík when he connected with a clearance 25 metres from goal. The defender made a sweet connection with the ball, but his low, skimming drive was just wide of the target.
Slavia’s response was to win a free-kick on the right-hand edge of the box on the half-hour mark, delivered perfectly onto the head of Darko Šuškavcevic, whose effort was somehow diverted over the crossbar by Eric Pedat.
For the remainder of the first period Servette were reduced to attempting to break the deadlock via long-range shots, all of which were dealt with capably by Pedat, as was a goal-bound free-kick by Fournier at the start of the second half.
On full alert
As the clock ticked by, so to did the influence of Servette striker Wilson Oruma, whose speed and jinking runs were proving hard to combat. Slavia had been warned prior to his decisive strike when the nimble forward ran unchallenged through their defence, only to disappointingly drag his shot wide.
However, with 75 minutes showing on the scoreboard, substitute Claiton picked up the ball in the centre of the field and found Yohann Lonfat in space 20 metres from goal. With the Slavia defence backing off, Lonfat played in Oruma with a neat flick and he coolly slipped the ball under the advancing Václavík.
Both sides happy
Having worked so tirelessly to gain their precious lead, the home team funnelled back in numbers for the remaining 15 minutes of the game to preserve it. Slavia never threatened though, seemingly content to overcome the 1-0 deficit in Prague next Thursday.