A solitary goal from Tomáš Došek gave SK Slavia Praha the slenderest of leads against Besiktas JK after their UEFA Cup fourth round first-leg encounter at the Strahov stadium.
Došek's wonderful chip on 62 minutes lit up a game that was riddled with sloppy passing and stuttering movement. However, once the Czech side were ahead, the result was never in doubt - especially once Besiktas defender Zago was sent off for violent conduct six minutes from full time.
The game had started brightly and a wonderfully worked free-kick almost brought Slavia a goal inside the first five minutes. After Rudolf Skacel was brought down by Tayfur Havutçu on the Slavia left, Karel Pitak stepped over the free-kick and ran into space, where he received the ball and hit a fizzing first-time effort narrowly over the Besiktas crossbar.
Slavia's next opening came on the 25-minute mark when Rudolf Skacel beat Kaan Dobra to a bouncing ball and galloped into the Besiktas area only for goalkeeper Óscar Córdoba to race off his line to block the midfield player's attempted lob.
Just before half-time, Sergen Yalçin came off the Besiktas bench to replace Ahmet Yildirim, who had been injured by a Lukáš Došek challenge, and it did not take long for the substitute to stamp his mark on the game. After Tomáš Došek had sent an effort skidding wide at one end, Sergen Yalçin showed neat footwork to beat two players and almost set up Ahmet Dursun at the other.
Slavia seemed more determined after the break and Tomáš Došek soon threatened, cutting in from the left on 48 minutes and firing a ferocious shot straight at Córdoba. Skacel also went close with a downward header which came to rest on the top of the Besiktas net. At the other end Ahmet Dursun, the visitors' outstanding performer, carried the ball forward on his own before unleashing a right-foot effort which he skewered wide.
Tomáš Došek's goal came when he latched on to Richard Dostálek's pass and took advantage of hesitancy by covering defender Zago to lift the ball over the advancing Córdoba from 18 metres. From that point on, Besiktas looked prepared to settle for their first defeat in 28 domestic and European games - although Zago's dismissal for bringing his boots down on Pitak's head as they both fell to ground will prove to be a blow ahead of next Thursday's second leg at the Inönü stadium.
The Besiktas coach Mircea Lucescu, who had no objections to Zago's sending off, suggested Yildirim's injury was the turning point. "Our defence was not so stubborn without him because Sergen Yalçin played in a more risky manner," he said. "But our chances are not bad before the return game as Ilhan Mansiz will be back in our lineup after a three-game suspension."
'One goal could be vital'
Lucescu's opposite number, Miroslav Beránek, expressed quiet confidence ahead of the return fixture. "It is a pity we did not take one more opportunity, but Besiktas defended very well," he said. "
I am sure that we will also score a goal in Istanbul and it will be vital."