When Pedro Martins succeeded Valencia CF-bound Nuno Espírito Santo as coach of Rio Ave FC in May, the former Sporting Clube de Portugal midfielder made his intentions clear: build on the "good work" of his predecessor.
Martins took over a side that last season reached the final of Portugal's two cups – they lost to SL Benfica in both – and the previous campaign finished a club-best sixth in the Liga. Some act to follow, but what better way, then, for the 44-year-old to start his reign than with a 1-0 victory at IFK Göteborg in the first leg of the teams' UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie – Rio Ave's debut match in continental competition.
"Tactically we were perfect," said Martins. "It was a very competitive game in which we did a tremendous amount of work. We worked ourselves to exhaustion. We must have the same tactical quality, concentration and commitment in the next 90 minutes."
Martins was appointed on the back of four successful years at the helm of CS Marítimo, whom he guided from the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round to the 2012/13 group stage, where the Madeira outfit rubbed shoulders with Club Brugge KV, FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Newcastle United FC.
Talk of a repeat run may be premature, but a berth in the play-offs is well within the compass of a side that takes its name from the river that flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Vila do Conde, a town of around 29,000 inhabitants located 27km north of Porto.
Ahmed Hassan was on target in Sweden last week against two-time UEFA Cup winners Göteborg, turning in Lionn's cross from the right midway through the first half.
"It was a dream come true for everyone," said the 21-year-old former al-Ahly SC striker, capped once by Egypt. "I'm very pleased with the goal and the win. We have to forget this match and work hard to reach the group stage. I've always dreamed of scoring a goal in Europe, but I will be much happier if we win the tie. Our thinking is to make history."
Midfielder Tarantini, so nicknamed because of his resemblance to former Argentina left-back and 1978 FIFA World Cup winner Alberto Tarantini, knows there is still work to do on Thursday before Rio Ave can secure a place in Friday's play-off draw. "This is a dangerous result," said the captain, beginning his seventh season with the club.
"We must have the same focus in Vila do Conde. It was a difficult match, but we were better than Göteborg. We had some difficulty managing certain moments of the game, but we had chances to win 2-0 or 3-0."
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.