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Skipper guides Aktobe through choppy waters

FK Aktobe 2-0 FC Olimpi Rustavi
A goal either side of half-time from captain Samat Smakov ensures the Kazakh titleholders hold sway ahead of next week's return in Georgia.

Samat Smakov makes it 1-0 from the penalty spot
Samat Smakov makes it 1-0 from the penalty spot ©Alexander Ivanov

FK Aktobe captain Samat Smakov struck twice as the hosts ground out a 2-0 win against FC Olimpi Rustavi, but the Georgian side will feel this UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie is far from over.

Indeed, the visitors held their own throughout in Kazakhstan yet were denied time and again by a combination of the woodwork, a lack of accuracy and some superb last-ditch defending. Smakov did his share of the latter though it was his contribution at the other end, scoring either side of half-time, that proved decisive.

The 31-year-old broke the deadlock on 40 minutes, keeping his cool in sweltering conditions to convert from the penalty spot after Teimuraz Gongadze had brought down Marat Khayrullin. Olimpi could have been level before the interval had David Bolkvadze displayed similar composure after being one-on-one with Andrei Sidelnikov. He did not, and even when Irakli Modebadze did beat the goalkeeper soon after the restart Smakov blocked on the goal line.

The skipper was soon back in attacking mode and made it 2-0 on 53 minutes with a free-kick from an acute angle. It just was not Olimpi's day, a feeling confirmed when Gongadze beat two Aktobe defenders and fired at the crossbar – they will hope for better when the sides reconvene in Rustavi next Wednesday.