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Dinamo keep cool to sink Yellow Submarine

NK Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 Villarreal CF
Ante Rukavina and Sammir provided moments of calm in an otherwise untidy match to earn the hosts victory in their opening Group D fixture.

Dinamo opened with victory against Villarreal in Group D
Dinamo opened with victory against Villarreal in Group D ©Getty Images

NK Dinamo Zagreb got off to a winning start in UEFA Europa League Group D thanks to a 2-0 victory against Villarreal CF in the Croatian capital.

Ante Rukavinagave gave Dinamo the early lead they craved and the visitors never fully recovered. Marcos Senna's second-half dismissal made their task all the more difficult, and Sammir added a deserved and inevitable second to fill Vahid Halilhodžić's side with optimism ahead of a Matchday 2 trip to PAOK FC.

Defeated in their previous four UEFA Europa League and UEFA Cup group stage home games, Dinamo evidently required a fillip to settle any nerves. Rukavina provided it on 18 minutes, racing on to Sammir's cute inside pass before leaving Gonzalo in his wake and finishing low into the corner.

It was a welcome moment of composure to punctuate an untidy opening period. The Yellow Submarine threatened only from safe distance from Dinamo's point of view, Jefferson Montero's shot whistling wide and Senna's effort merely warming the palms of Ivan Kelava. Although Juan Carlos Garrido's team showed far more positive intentions after the break, it was Sammir's invention that again caught the eye. The Brazilian's cross-shot called for the intervention of Kelava on the hour.

While Villarreal fought back – Montero again chancing his arm to no avail – at the other end only Gonzalo's last-gasp clearance prevented Dinamo's Luis Ibáñez from putting the finishing touch to fine build-up play from Ivan Tomečak. If Senna's sending-off dented hopes of a comeback, Sammir hammered the final nail in the coffin when he profited from Leandro Cufré's buccaneering run to score first time with a coolness lacking in Villarreal's performance.