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A second-half goal from Polish striker Radoslaw Gilewicz proved decisive as FK Austria Wien began their UEFA Cup Group C campaign with a 1-0 win against previous group leaders Real Zaragoza on Matchday 2 at Ernst Happel stadium.
Although Austria enjoyed the bulk of the early possession, Zaragoza always looked dangerous on the counterattack and they had the first goalscoring chance in the eighth minute when Argentinian winger Luciano Galletti came inside from his right-wing position and fired a superb shot just over goalkeeper Joseph Didulica's crossbar.
The Spanish side could have taken the lead in the 40th minute when another quick break resulted in Javi Moreno firing in a powerful shot. Didulica beat the ball away but it rebounded back to Moreno whose cross found top scorer David Villa. However, his header lacked power and was comfortably held by Didulica.
The nearest either side came to breaking the deadlock before half-time came with three minutes of the half remaining. Austria won a free-kick on the right and there appeared no immediate danger but Štepán Vachoušek produced a stunning strike which curled past everybody and smacked on to the top of the post with keeper Luis García well beaten.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the opening 45 minutes with neither side able to breach the opposition defence. Despite some nice passing and movement, the home side lacked a cutting edge in attack with the absence of top scorer Sigurd Rushfeldt through injury appearing to affect their ability in front of goal.
With Villa having a quiet evening for Zaragoza, strike partner Moreno was looking the most likely player to score and he went close in the 64th minute with a long-range free-kick that flew straight into Didulica's arms.
With the deadlock no nearer to being broken both coaches made changes. Zaragoza coach Víctor Múñoz opted to take off the ineffective Villa for Óscar González, while Günter Kronsteiner also made a couple of switches.
Just three minutes after the double substitution, Austria scored what proved to be the only goal. Gilewicz played the ball to Ivica Vastic who was tackled as he lined up a shot. The ball broke kindly back to the Polish striker who fired a well-placed shot across García into the corner of the Zaragoza net.
The goal seemed to deflate Zaragoza and although they piled men forward searching for an equaliser, they failed to trouble Didulica. A surging run and cross from Sávio Bortolini, which drifted over everybody, was the nearest they came to levelling matters.
The result means Austria will travel to face FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on Matchday 3 full of confidence, while Zaragoza will sit out and await the visit of the Ukrainian side a week after that.
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