European debutants SV Zulte Waregem continued their dream start to UEFA Cup Group F as they followed their 4-1 win at FK Austria Wien with a convincing defeat of AC Sparta Praha.
Sparta may have been in their 180th UEFA competition game compared to Zulte Waregem's fourth, but it was the Belgian Cup holders who controlled matters from the start, leaving Sparta without a point following their opening loss to RCD Espanyol. Just four minutes in Zulte Waregem took the lead, centre-forward Cédric Roussel making it look easy when he tapped in Ludwin Van Nieuwenhuyze's free-kick from close range.
With Sparta still trying to recover from the early blow, the Belgians struck again in the 17th minute when Stijn Meert turned in a neat pass from Tim Matthys, the hat-trick hero in Austria. It took Sparta 30 minutes to venture into their opponents' half and when they finally did, Jan Šimák sent his effort over the bar.
Zulte Waregem almost made the Czech visitors pay again soon after, with Roussel's header being tipped over by Sparta goalkeeper Tomáš Grigar before Van Nieuwenhuyze directed his shot high of the mark following a Matthys corner. Sparta again caught a rare glimpse of goal five minutes before the interval when home goalkeeper Geert De Vlieger was forced to punch away Šimák's powerful free-kick.
One point away
Šimák did his best to turn the game after the break, notably with a long-range attempt that was only centimetres off target. But just past the hour it was 3-0 thanks to Tony Sergeant's 20-metre strike. Sparta claimed a consolation five minutes from time when substitute Mauro Lustrinelli prodded in a Miroslav Matušovič cross, but the evening belonged to Zulte Waregem, who can reach the last 32 with a point at Espanyol on 23 November, when Sparta will need to beat AFC Ajax.