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Austria edge closer with Dinamo victory

GNK Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 FK Austria Wien
Second-half strikes from Marin Leovac and Marko Stankovic put the visitors within touching distance of a group stage berth.

Austria edge closer with Dinamo victory
Austria edge closer with Dinamo victory ©UEFA.com

FK Austria Wien prised open the door to the UEFA Champions League group stage with an eye-catching 2-0 defeat of GNK Dinamo Zagreb in the first leg of their play-off.

Seeking to extend a run of eight successive wins in home qualifiers, Krunoslav Jurčić's Dinamo dictated the early tempo but fell prey to a second-half rally by the visitors. Marin Leovac broke the deadlock after 68 minutes and Marko Stankovic added the final flourish – after Dinamo substitute Ante Rukavina had been sent off – to put the Austrian champions in sight of a first group-stage appearance ahead of the 27 August second leg.

In a first half that was slow to ignite, Dinamo full-back Josip Pivarić almost lit the fuse by dashing to the byline and creating an opening for Zvonko Pamić, who fired over first time. Steely and disciplined, Austria looked in little danger of conceding until a delicious Pamić free-kick dissected their ranks, only for Junior Fernándes to plant a header straight at Heinz Lindner.

If a venomous 25-metre drive from Ivo Pinto then elicited a routine stop from the visiting keeper, Lindner soon had to be at his best to repel another Fernándes header on the stroke of half-time.

Lively forward El Arbi Hilal personified Dinamo's early enthusiasm after the interval, dashing through the middle and stinging Lindner's fingertips with a venomous shot from range. Having been on the back foot for long stretches,  Austria broke free from their defensive shackles on the hour. Tomáš Jun thought he had applied the finishing touch to Florian Mader's corner before Josip Šimunić dived in to clear off the line.

The hosts were helpless to prevent Nenad Bjelica's team from taking the lead shortly after, however. Philipp Hosiner collected the last of a succession of cross-field passes and released the onrushing Leovac, who made Oliver Zelenika's net billow with a belligerent left-foot strike. Dinamo were wobbling when Rukavina was sent off seconds after coming off the bench and Stankovic salted their wounds by curling in a sumptuous curling effort from the edge of the area 15 minutes from time.

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