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HJK eliminate Rabotnicki with first-half flourish

HJK Helsinki 2-1 FK Rabotnicki(agg: 2-1)
Two goals in five first-half minutes did the damage for the Finnish champions, who twice struck the woodwork after half-time.

HJK supporters got their reward after enduring a nervy second half
HJK supporters got their reward after enduring a nervy second half ©AFP/Getty Images

HJK Helsinki will play APOEL FC in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round after overcoming FK Rabotnicki 2-1 in the Finnish capital.

Despite Stephan Vujcic's splendid long-range effort two minutes after the restart, Rabotnicki failed to recover from Robin Lod (22) and Valtteri Moren (26) goals in a rampant spell for HJK midway through the first half.

A clinical HJK profited from their first-half ascendancy, scoring twice in five minutes. Firstly, Sebastian Sorsa's perfectly-weighted pass teed up Lod; then Moren converted Nikolai Alho's corner. HJK sustained the pressure and looked comfortable going into the break.

Rabotnicki regrouped at half-time and Vujcic's powerful long-range effort upon the restart set up an exciting second half. The sides exchanged shots on target as the game opened up but it was HJK who came closest to another goal when 21-year-old Lod, arguably the game's standout player, hit the woodwork in the 52nd minute.

Rabotnicki hunted the decisive away goal and in the final moments HJK's Macouba Kandji could have taken advantage, but he too was left frustrated as the woodwork again came to the away side's rescue.