SC Heerenveen got off the mark in Group D with an attritional goalless draw away to FK Ventspils in a match short on meaningful opportunities.
Defence held sway for much of a dreary evening in Latvia, the only real opening falling to Edgars Gauračs early on before holes finally started appearing with full time approaching. Igor Ţîgîrlaş squandered a fine chance on the break as poor control allowed the Heerenveen back line to improve their odds on a one-on-one while at the other end Aleksandrs Kolinko beat out a point-blank Gerald Sibon header and 0-0 it ended.
Ventspils claimed an impressive 1-1 draw at Hertha BSC Berlin on Matchday 1 and with the storm clouds opening in Riga it was Nunzio Zavettieri's side that began the brighter. Aleksandrs Solovjovs steered one effort just wide as Heerenveen were pegged back though when they did escape the confines of their own half on 16 minutes they almost fell behind. The hosts broke, a long ball sending Gauračs through one-on-one with Brian Vandenbussche and though the goalkeeper stood up well, a scuffed effort gave him every chance.
If that was a warning, Heerenveen heeded it and began playing like a side that claimed the Dutch Cup in May; not one that had lost four in a row before the weekend. With Pāvels Mihadjuks in particular looking impenetrable, chances were at a premium so Paulo Henrique could ill-afford to wastefully pull an effort into the side-netting when found in space midway through the second period. It was a sign of things to come as both teams took a chance with full time approaching but, as always looked the case, neither could take it.
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