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Pavlovič puts Maribor in command

FC Zürich 2-3 NK Maribor
Zoran Pavlovič struck directly from a corner to settle a thrilling game and give the Slovenian outfit a shock victory in Switzerland.

Darko Milanič's side hold a commanding position ahead of the second leg
Darko Milanič's side hold a commanding position ahead of the second leg ©Miha Vidrih/SiOL Sportal

NK Maribor hold the upper hand in their tie against FC Zürich after securing a shock 3-2 win in Switzerland.

Thrilling encounter

Zürich's hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League play-off round received a huge blow in a thrilling first leg which produced four goals in the first half-hour. After Johan Vonlanthen had given the hosts a fourth-minute lead, two goals from Marcos put the visitors on top before Eric Hassli levelled matters once again. However, Maribor were not to be denied and secured a famous victory through Zoran Pavlovič's 50th-minute effort.

Early goals
Prior to the match, Zürich coach Bernard Challandes had demanded a two-goal victory from his team. They got off to the perfect start when Vonlanthen applied the finishing touch after good work by Hassli. The Swiss side then created several opportunities to increase their lead, but Maribor kept their cool and responded well. Marcos equalised after pouncing on an error by home goalkeeper Andrea Guatelli, who was standing in for the injured Johnny Leoni.

Corner winner
With 22 minutes played Marcos added a second, before this topsy-turvy game was given another twist when Dušan Djurić set up Hassli, who equalised for the Swiss titleholders. The decisive goal came at the start of the second half when Pavlovič, perhaps the most influential figure on the pitch, scored directly from a corner to put Maribor firmly in control of the tie. With eight minutes remaining, the same player had the chance to give his side an even healthier advantage ahead of the second leg but could not score from the penalty spot.