|K||Sparta Praha||CFR Cluj|
|C||H. Tel-Aviv||Rapid Wien|
AC Sparta Praha defeated CFR 1907 Cluj 2-0 to climb two places to second in UEFA Europa League Group K and end a six-year wait for a home victory on group-stage duty.
First-half goals from Juraj Kucka and Roman Hubník set Sparta on their way, and the Czech team were largely untroubled in the second period as they claimed a first group-stage triumph since beating S.S. Lazio in the UEFA Champions League on 9 December 2003. More importantly, Jozef Chovanec's side are in a position to qualify and will look to strengthen that further when they travel to Romania for the return fixture on 5 November.
Cluj were lively in the opening exchanges and could have taken the lead on 13 minutes when the well-placed Lacina Traoré could only head a Juan Culio centre into the hands of goalkeeper Jaromír Blažek. Two minutes later the home team scored from their first attack, Kucka showing athleticism and bravery to charge into the box and nod Ondřej Kušnír's cross beyond Nuno Claro.
Bony Wilfried should have played in Kamil Vacek on the half-hour, too much weight on his short pass denying the No25 a clear run on goal, but Sparta soon doubled their advantage anyway. The danger looked to have passed when a free-kick was headed clear, yet Kucka thought differently and effected a superb hooked pass over his head to defender Hubník who was free to pick his spot with a volley.
Cluj coach Antonio Conceição responded by making two substitutions at half-time, yet it was Sparta who threatened first as Nuno Claro did well to tip over a dipping effort from Václav Kadlec. The 17-year-old also created the clearest opening of the half, playing in Wilfried whose 71st-minute shot lacked the precision of the pass which preceded it.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.