By Aleksandar Boskovic
NK Maribor fought back from a goal down to defeat FK Buducnost Banatski Dvor in Serbia and Montenegro, although it took a late winner from substitute Dalibor Teinovic to earn a narrow victory against European debutants who had produced a spirited display.
Teinovic combined with fellow replacement Alen Mujanovic to score what proved to be the winning goal, sending his 76th-minute shot into the bottom corner of the net to give the Slovenian side what could prove to be a vital 2-1 lead ahead of the second leg on 26 August.
Second division side
The night had started well for Serbo-Montenegrin second division outfit Banatski, who were playing in the unusual surroundings of the Partizan stadium in Belgrade after their own ground was deemed unfit for European competition. Despite the trip, the 1,500 fans who travelled 80 kilometres to the capital were given an early reward when defender Željko Miloševic converted a penalty on 22 minutes after Maribor midfield player Damir Oslaj had handled the ball.
But rather than spurring the home side on, the goal instead invigorated Maribor who responded immediately. After taking control of possession, the Slovenian side made further inroads into the Banatski half and gradually pressed back the home team until midfield player Danijel Brezic had their first real chance of the match with a 34th-minute free-kick.
Four minutes later, the visitors scored the equaliser that their pressure had threatened. Peter Franci did well down the right and crossed to striker Dominik Bersnjak who made no mistake from eight metres out. Maribor almost struck again soon afterwards, but Andrej Kvas failed to show the poise that his strike partner had demonstrated moments earlier and missed the target from the edge of the penalty area.
Banatski tried to turn the tide after the break and on 56 minutes Srdjan Baljak had a half-chance but his long-range shot was well off the mark. Ten minutes later, defender Mirko Andric headed narrowly wide but this was to prove the home team's final real effort as Maribor regained control, and with 15 minutes remaining Teinovic gave the Slovenian side a one-goal cushion to take into the second leg.