Russian Cup holders FC Spartak Moskva put their disappointing domestic form behind them to open their UEFA Cup campaign with a first round first-leg win at home against Esbjerg fB.
Spartak replaced coach Andrei Chernyshov with caretaker Vladimir Fedotov last week with the side eleventh in the Russian Premier League, and came up against an EfB side lying second in the Danish Superleague - having only entered the UEFA Cup via the fair play draw. The Danish visitors had 21-year-old striker Tommy Bechmann fit after overcoming a muscle strain.
It was the home side who took control from the first whistle, as Yegor Titov, Goran Trobok and Maxym Kalinichenko dominated midfield. A header went wide of the post on eleven minutes, but soon after Spartak were in front.
Titov, the home captain, was tripped 25 metres out and from a quickly taken free-kick Spartak broke down the right. Kalinichenko sent in a cross that flew above the EfB defence and fell nicely for the unmarked Aleksandr Pavlenko to half-volley into the net.
Mihailo Pjanovic then forced EfB goalkeeper Lars Winde to save as Spartak pushed for another goal, but the visitors then had a spell of pressure of their own. Bechmann's long throw was flicked just over the bar by Hans Henrik Andreasen for the best of their chances on 25 minutes and at the other end Winde made a vital punch from a Trobok cross.
The next Spartak goal arrived moments later. Titov was the creator as he received the ball in the area and cut back intelligently, squaring to Pavlenko, who produced the slightest of touches back to Kalinichenko - and the strong shot gave Winde no chance.
Bechmann then had an opportunity to pull one back as he sprinted into the area, only for Spartak goalkeeper Wojciech Kowalewski to advance and block. Kowalewski also denied Jess Christian Thorup after a flicked header, but Spartak were deservedly ahead at half-time.
Other than the introduction of Igor Mitreski for Spartak, little changed after half-time. The home side remained well on top, with EfB producing occasional spells of pressure only to be frustrated by Spartak's well-organised defence.
Kalinichenko had the first chance of the half as he shot over after chesting down Titov's cross, while on 64 minutes Kowalewski did well to tip over Hans Henrik Andreasen's long-range effort - struck as the EfB forward was fouled, although the resultant free-kick came to nothing.
First Kalinichenko and Pavlyuchenko went close as Spartak's dominance was picked up after the hour mark, but gradually they became happy to consolidate their two-goal lead.
EfB were keen for an away goal to take back to Denmark for the second leg on 15 October, but other than Jan Kristiansen's added-time volley wide, they were not able to prise open the home back line.