By Mark Vandenplas at Freethiel stadium
Marco Né's goal on the stroke of half-time secured KSK Beveren's passage to the UEFA Cup group stage with a 2-1 aggregate success against PFC Levski Sofia in Belgium.
Né was one of ten players from the Ivory Coast in the Beveren starting eleven, with goalkeeper Mark Volders the sole native player in the home side's lineup, the result of a scouting policy that led them to last season's Belgian Cup final and a place in this competition.
On the attack
Levski knew they had to score at least once to qualify after the 1-1 draw in Sofia in the first leg and they adopted an all-out attacking approach from the start, fielding three, and sometimes four, forwards as they took the game to Beveren.
They came close to scoring after 15 minutes through Emil Angelov. Three minutes later they had a goal disallowed, when Bulgarian international striker Georgi Chilikov's effort was ruled out for handball earlier in the move.
Beveren on top
Thereafter, the technically superior Beveren side took control of the match and threatened the Levskigoal three times in quick succession between the 28th and 34th minutes, through Romaric N'Dri, Mohamed Diallo and Moussa Sanogo.
Né follows up
Though Levski hit back with Chilikov forcing two saves out of Volders in the 40th and 42nd minutes, Beveren scored the all-important goal in the final minute of the first half. N'Dri's free-kick from 25 metres came back off the post and Né was following up to head the ball into the net.
Levski pressed valiantly in the second half but chances were harder to come by than in the relatively open first period, with Daniel Borimirov seeing their only real chance of note saved by Volders.
Levski's frustration was reflected in the four yellow cards they picked up in the final 15 minutes, and it was Beveren who finished the stronger with Diallo and Alain Koudou both coming close to extending their lead. However, in the end, Né's solitary strike proved sufficient to win a place in Tuesday's draw.