FC Dinamo Tbilisi, FK Aktobe, Drogheda United FC and NK Dinamo Zagreb all kicked off their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round ties with important wins.
Article top media content
The first legs of the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round yielded three home wins with Drogheda United FC and FK Aktobe gaining slim advantages ahead of the return fixtures. FC Dinamo Tbilisi also won at home, but more convincingly, while NK Dinamo Zagreb showed their European pedigree with a comprehensive triumph in Northern Ireland.
FC Dinamo Tbilisi 3-0 NSÍ Runavík
Rainer Zobel's competitive debut as FC Dinamo Tbilisi coach proved to be a successful one after the Georgian champions enjoyed an impressive win over their visitors from the Faroe Islands. All three goals were scored within the first half hour with defender Guram Kashia breaking the deadlock by bursting into the box and firing into the top corner after seven minutes. Oleg Gvelesiani doubled the lead three minutes later converting David Odikadze's cross from close range. Odikadze then scored himself with a penalty but despite further pressure, the home side had to settle for a three-goal advantage ahead of next week's deciding leg.
FK Aktobe 1-0 FC Sheriff
Aktobe will only take a slender lead into the second leg after failing to convert their dominance into goals in Kazakhstan. The hosts needed a 49th-minute Samat Smakov penalty, awarded for a foul on Ulugbek Assanbayev, to break the deadlock having previously been repelled by Sheriff's stern rearguard action. Sergey Strukov, Assanbayev and Marat Khayrullin all had opportunities to increase Aktobe's lead soon after but the Moldovan champions survived.
Drogheda United FC 2-1 FC Levadia Tallinn
A second-half fightback gave Drogheda a narrow lead to defend against Levadia ahead of next week's decider in Estonia. Tarmo Kink had put the visitors in front after 27 minutes when he latched on to a short back-pass by Graham Gartland to round home goalkeeper Daniel Connor and finish easily. Five minutes after the break Drogheda were level when Ollie Cahill, making a record-breaking appearance for an Irish club player in European competition, headed in Stuart Byrne's cross. Fahrudin Kudozovic then struck the winner after following up a Richard Baker effort which came back off the post.
Linfield FC 0-2 NK Dinamo Zagreb
An added time free-kick from Dinamo's new Chilean signing Pedro Morales ensured the Croatian side went away with more than just a one-goal lead. Morales' set-piece from the edge of the penalty area went underneath the defensive wall and past Linfield goalkeeper Alan Mannus and into the bottom corner. Linfield were hampered by a lack of recognised strikers and rarely gave Dinamo cause for alarm at Windsor Park. The Croatian champions had earlier taken a 19th-minute lead thanks to Marijo Mandžukić's curling finish after he had been played in by Morales' clever ball.