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Croatians cruise in southern openers

Southern round-up: Croatia's HNK Hajduk Split and NK Slaven Koprivnica both won 4-0 against Maltese sides on a productive night for Albania's UEFA Cup hopefuls.

Bojan Vručina celebrates Slaven Koprivnica's fourth goal against Marsaxlokk
Bojan Vručina celebrates Slaven Koprivnica's fourth goal against Marsaxlokk ©Domenic Aquilina

Croatia's HNK Hajduk Split and NK Slaven Koprivnica both won 4-0 against Maltese opposition on a good night for Albania's UEFA Cup hopefuls. Both KS Vllaznia and FK Partizani earned creditable results on their travels, while Cyprus's representatives enjoyed decent results against Macedonian opponents, APOEL FC drawing at FK Pelister while AC Omonia won 2-0 at home against FK Milano. The second legs take place on 31 July.

PFC Cherno More Varna 4-0 UE Sant Julià
Four late goals saw brave Sant Julià come unstuck in Bulgaria, as the Sailors eventually took advantage of the dismissal of Yael Fontan four minutes from half-time. Pepe missed a glorious chance to put the Andorran side ahead after just two minutes, but they looked set to earn a draw until Alexandar Alexandrov broke the deadlock with a cool 84th-minute finish. Miroslav Manolov scored a second after a goalmouth scramble four minutes later, and Alexandrov and Radoslav Bachev salted the visitors' wounds with further strikes.

FK Pelister 0-0 APOEL FC
Pelister were lucky to escape with a draw as APOEL dominated the first leg in F.Y.R. Macedonia. Defender Joost Broerse blocked Alexandre Machado's early strike for Pelister, but from then the Cypriot side dominated, with Nuno Morais, Jean Paulista and Konstantinos Charalimpidis all drawing saves out of Trajce Nikov. Nikov denied Marcin Żewłaków in the second half before the Polish international sent another effort just over the bar.

FC Vaduz 1-2 NK Zrinjski
Liechtenstein Cup winners Vaduz succumbed to a late own goal in front of a 720-strong crowd at the Rheinpark-Stadium, despite playing some fine football. The home side impressed early on but went behind after 23 minutes as Velibor Djurić pounced on a defensive error. Benjamin Fischer equalised for Heinz Hermann's side and they piled forward in search of a winner after the break only to be undone as Stefan Iten turned Staniša Nikolić's cross into his own net in the 90th minute.

NK Široki Brijeg 0-0 FK Partizani
Partizani goalkeeper Edvan Bakaj emerged with plenty of credit as the Albanian side returned unscathed from their trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina. After a cagey first half, Široki Brijeg began to exert some pressure after the break, but despite carving out a number of chances they could not find a way past the impressive custodian, leaving the tie open as the action shifts to Tirana.

Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona FC 1-1 FK Mogren
A Milenko Nerić effort eight minutes from time denied ten-man Kiryat Shmona a win against their Montenegrin guests. Omer Peretz scored the Israeli side's first goal in European competition from close range after 18 minutes but spirits sank as Yaniv Lavi was dismissed just six minutes later. However, they looked poised for victory until Nerić headed home a minute after coming on as a substitute.

FC Koper 1-2 KS Vllaznia
Xhevahir Sukaj was the star of the show as Vllaznia staged an upset in Nova Gorica. The striker found the target after seven minutes to signal the Albanian side's intentions and hit a second precious away goal two minutes from half-time. Mitja Viler struck back for Koper after 68 minutes, but the Slovenian side's quest for an equaliser was to be fruitless.

FK Zeta 1-1 NK IB Ljubljana
A late lapse cost Zeta dear as the Montenegrin side were denied a win against their Slovenian visitors by an added-time goal. The home side took the lead in the 28th minute through Ivan Knežević and looked poised to go into the away leg of their tie with a lead to defend until Bosnia-Herzegovnian international striker Ivan Jolić struck in the dying moments.

Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC 3-0 AC Juvenes-Dogana
Hapoel Tel-Aviv look to have taken a confident step towards the second qualifying round after a comfortable victory against their Sammarinese guests. The Serravalle side conceded three goals in 16 first-half minutes, with Idan Srur scoring the opener after 17 minutes. Ygal Antebi headed the second on 27 minutes before Srur registered his second of the night six minutes later.

HNK Hajduk Split 4-0 Birkirkara FC
Hajduk enjoyed a comfortable evening against their Maltese opponents with two goals in either half giving them a commanding lead in the tie. Senijad Ibričić marked his debut for the club with the opener after three minutes and Nikola Kalinić scored a second on 24 minutes. An excellent 55th-minute header from Tomislav Bušić made it 3-0 before 16-year-old Mario Tičinović scored a fourth with a little help from new signing Dario Jertec.

AC Omonia 2-0 FK Milano
Omonia prevailed on a hot, humid night in Nicosia, with Milano's Liridon Kukaj scoring the first own goal of the 2008/09 UEFA Cup as he looped a header over his goalkeeper, Edin Nuredinovski, after 20 minutes. Recent arrivals Dimitris Christofi and Klodian Duro then set up a 64th-minute headed goal for fellow newcomer Anton Žlogar, with only Borce Manevski threatening at the other end.

Marsaxlokk FC 0-4 NK Slaven Koprivnica
Slaven Koprivnica can start preparing for the second qualifying round after a convincing win in Malta. The Croatian side were 3-0 up by half-time with Kristijan Caval, Dalibor Poldrugac and Franjo Tepurić all beating Marsaxlokk goalkeeper Saviour Darmanin. Substitute Bojan Vručina completed the rout with a fourth 12 minutes from time.