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Maribor take two-goal lead to Luxembourg

NK Maribor 2-0 F91 Dudelange
Two goals in nine first-half minutes from Arghus and Agim Ibraimi gave NK Maribor the upper hand going into the second leg against F91 Dudelange.

Darko Milanič guided his Maribor side to a 2-0 victory against Dudelange
Darko Milanič guided his Maribor side to a 2-0 victory against Dudelange ©Getty Images

NK Maribor will take a two-goal advantage into the second leg against the champions of Luxembourg F91 Dudelange thanks to first-half strikes from Arghus and Agim Ibraimi which earned them a 2-0 victory at the Stadion Ljudski vrt.

After an uneventful opening to the match it was Maribor who took the lead on 36 minutes when Arghus met Ibraimi's pinpoint cross to head past Jonathan Joubert in the visitors' goal. Just seconds before the break Ibraimi's delightful free-kick gave Maribor a two-goal advantage to take to Luxembourg for the second leg on 19 July.

Fresh from their 4-0 aggregate defeat of FC Santa Coloma in the first qualifying round, Dudelange started brightly and were unlucky not to take the lead just past the half-hour when Bryan Melisse's 22-metre strike came back off the post.

However, it was Maribor who went ahead, Arghus timing his run to perfection to head in Ibraimi's cross. Darko Milanič's side doubled their lead nine minutes later when Ibraimi's superb free-kick evaded the wall and nestled in the top left-hand corner.

The closest the visitors came to a reply was Sofian Benzouien's glorious chance from close range but somehow the 24-year-old fired over with the goal at his mercy. Maribor's second-half substitutions almost paid dividends only for Goran Cvijanović's strike to come back off the crossbar and Etien Velikonja to be denied by Joubert with seven minutes remaining.