NK Varteks took a huge step towards the UEFA Cup first round after a convincing 3-1 victory over FC Levadia Maardu in Tallinn's Kadriorg stadium in the first leg of their qualifying round tie.
Mumlek on the mark
Former Croatian international Miljenko Mumlek was the star for the visitors, scoring either side of half-time as Levadia extended Estonian clubs' dismal record against teams from the former Yugoslavia in UEFA competition.
Mumlek opens scoring
Varteks dominated the opening 20 minutes and, after weathering a brief spell of counter-attacking from the home side, they seized the initiative in the 33rd minute when team captain Mumlek chested down a long pass in the penalty area and fired past Artur Kotenko in the Levadia goal.
The more technical Croatian side continued to dominate in the second half and came close again in the 53rd minute, when defender Mladen Jurcevic broke forward but he struck his powerful long-range shot straight at Kotenko. Just two minutes later, Levadia pulled level through Maxsim Rõtškov. The midfield player was the first to a rebound 18 metres out, with his left-foot effort catching Vladimir Vasilj by surprise in Varteks' goal.
Mumlek restores lead
However, parity was short-lived with Varteks restoring their lead after 66 minutes. Mumlek again illustrated his class as he fired in a superb volley from inside the penalty area after Nikola Melnjak's good run and cross from the left.
Six minutes later, Varteks extended their lead, as substitute Ivan Jolic set up Ivan Rezic to place a well-struck shot past Kotenko. Creditably, Levadia did not give up, with Dmitri Kruglov and Eduard Ratnikov both threatening from long range. Then three minutes from time, Jolic struck the post for Varteks, but the two-goal lead was sufficient to leave the Estonians facing mission improbable in the return leg in Croatia in two weeks.