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Saenko clincher opens Spartak account

NK Dinamo Zagreb 0-1 FC Spartak Moskva
Ivan Saenko's 75th-minute goal in Croatia decided a game of few chances and got the Russian outfit off the mark in Group D.

Ivan Saenko's goal got Spartak up and running in Group D
Ivan Saenko's goal got Spartak up and running in Group D ©Getty Images

Ivan Saenko's late goal gave FC Spartak Moskva a first victory in UEFA Cup Group D, 1-0 away to NK Dinamo Zagreb.

Off the mark
The Russia striker decided a game of few chances at the Maksimir Stadium, firing home from the edge of the area to secure Spartak's first points in the group. The Croatian side were unable to make inroads into the visiting defence, being reduced to trying their luck from distance. For Michael Laudrup's men, the win made amends for a home defeat by Udinese Calcio three weeks ago. Dinamo already had points on the board after beating NEC Nijmegen before losing to Tottenham Hotspur FC.

Long range
Here, Marijan Vlak's charges were soon on the back foot as first Aleksandr Prudnikov, then Aleksandr Pavlenko sent in long-range efforts on Tomislav Butina's goal. Although Marijo Mandžukić fired over the Spartak crossbar, Stipe Pletikosa waited till midway through the opening period before making his first save, from Pedro Morales's speculative strike for Dinamo. The tight nature of the contest continued into the second half, with Prudnikov blasting an attempt high and wide, although Martin Jiránek got somewhat closer to the home goal with a header off target from a Pavlenko corner.

With both back lines still dominant, Dinamo's Luis Ibáñez and Saenko of Spartak joined the list of players resigned to taking pot shots from distance. Eventually, though, Saenko found the perfect range from the edge of the box, and with Ibáñez's response being easily gathered by Pletikosa and Igor Bišcan nodding wide, Spartak held on to the spoils.