Mladen Petrić shook off a recent virus to help Hamburger SV to a UEFA Cup victory at MŠK Žilina.
Petrić had been forced to sit out Sunday's 1-1 Bundesliga draw with FC Schalke 04 but showed no ill-effects in Slovakia as he scored inside 15 minutes. Fellow Croatian international Ivica Olić added a second just before half-time and that proved enough to claim three Group F points, despite substitute Emil Rilke's consolation with 21 minutes left. It could be a valuable return in a section containing Hamburg's fellow former European champions AFC Ajax and Aston Villa FC plus SK Slavia Praha.
Despite Petrić's return, Hamburg were still not at full-strength, with injured trio Nigel de Jong, Marcell Jansen and Thiago Neves unavailable against a team on a five-match unbeaten home run in UEFA competition. Admir Vladavić's early shot certainly tested Hamburg goalkeeper Frank Rost, who then turned an effort from the striker round the post, but they were soon behind when Petrić headed in Thimothée Atouba's left-wing cross.
Žilina shrugged off the setback and Adauto Da Silva forced another save from Rost, while Hamburg midfielder David Jarolím blocked a Peter Pekarík shot. However, in pushing forward the home side left space at the back and moments before the break Guy Demel's inswinging corner was met by the right boot of Olić to double the lead. Žilina pulled a goal back when a Vladavić centre was volleyed in by Rilke, who had only been on the pitch for three minutes. But the best of the late chances went to Olić, his header being stopped by Žilina goalkeeper Dušan Perniš.