Graf aces serve up three match points
Monday, 15 June 2009
Centre Zagreb AMA 2-0 Bratislava AMA
The hosts made the perfect start to their UEFA Regions' Cup campaign with two second-half Ivan Graf spot-kicks securing a well-earned victory.
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Tournament hosts Centre Zagreb AMA started their bid for the UEFA Regions' Cup title with a well-earned 2-0 win against Bratislava AMA in Vrbovec.
Ivan Graf scored two second-half penalties to secure three points in a Group A game in which the home side were dominant. Bratislava were restricted to few chances at the Gradski Stadion and their disappointing showing was compounded when Martin Moravčík was sent off late on.
A flurry of opportunities came for Centre Zagreb in the opening exchanges with Graf on the end of many of them. The striker misdirected a free header in the fifth minute and was denied by goalkeeper Andrej Mundi at the near post. It seemed a goal must come, but after Mundi sprawled at Graf's feet to deny him once again, Bratislava settled down. On the stroke of half-time, home custodian Nikola Durdek was called into action twice in quick succession, first stopping Frantisek Pesl's weaving run and then pawing away Viktor Gavula's glancing header.
The Croatian representatives were back on the front foot after the interval. In the 50th minute, Sandro Perković crossed deep and although there was plenty of power in Ivan Horvat's goalbound header, Mundi flung himself and tipped the ball over. Then the dangerous Marko Puškarić squared for Darko Kunstek whose first-time effort clipped the bar.
In the 73rd minute, Graf ran at Bratislava captain Dominik Tóth who brought him down in the area. The forward picked himself up and calmly sent Mundi the wrong way. The Slovakian side tried to hit back and Roman Hlina drove just wide from distance. Their forays forward were leaving plenty of space, though, and Puškarić won another penalty with three minutes remaining which Graf dispatched. There was still time for Moravčík to receive his marching orders for violent conduct.