By Berend Scholten from the Frethiel stadium
An inspired performance by Marco Ne helped KSK Beveren to a 3-1 win against FC Vaduz in the first leg of the UEFA Cup second qualifying round.
Once again comprised of eleven Ivory Coast players, the Belgium side fully deserved their victory after controlling large portions of the game and showing a great deal of attacking fluidity. The only surprise was that it took 22 minutes to fashion their first real chance as Ne split the defence with a beautiful pass to leave Alexandre Tokpa one-on-one with Portuguese goalkeeper Carlos Silva, and the striker kept his composure to put the home side ahead.
Three minutes later and the score was 2-0, Romaric N'dri stepping up to take a long range free-kick and curlinh a shot into the top corner. With such a rapid burst, the crowd could sense a healthy win but were quickly silenced by a rare Vaduz break that resulted in Eduardo Dos Santos unleashing a shot that skidded just past the post.
Beveren slowly reclaimed the initiative but the heavy rain that fell during the half-time break saw them lose their composure and struggle to regain the initiative and defender Michael Stocklasa quickly demonstrated the visitors' intent with another long-range shot that again went just past the post. Stocklasa was involved once more five minutes later, supplying a corner that was headed in by Marius Zarn as the Liechtenstein outfit halved the arrears.
Substitute Bjorn Vleminckx had a chance to restore the home side's two-goal cushion when he beat goalkeeper Carlos to the ball, but his attempt, just three metres from goal, was off target. The Belgian first division team did subsequently press home their advantage, however, Seydou Kante finding Ne with a good pass and the best player on the pitch delicately lobbed the ball over the advancing Carlos to make it 3-1.
With fifteen minutes remaining Vleminckx thought he had made amends for his early profligacy but his headed goal was disallowed after the referee decided he had impeded the goalkeeper. The game really came to life in the closing stages as Beveren sought the strike that would surely have clinched the tie, while Vaduz knew that another away goal would bring them right back into the game. It was the visitors who came closest through substitute Michele Polverino, but his shot was well saved by Boubacar Barry.