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Minnows focused on completing missions

KR Reykjavík, Llanelli AFC and KuPS Kuopio are just three of the many sides hoping to reach the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round this week after strong first-leg showings.

KR celebrate following Kjartan Henry Finnbogason's goal against Žilina
KR celebrate following Kjartan Henry Finnbogason's goal against Žilina ©KR Reykjavík

While Fulham FC, FK Austria Wien and FC Salzburg will be confident of progress to the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round this Thursday after comfortable first-leg wins, the likes of KR Reykjavík, KuPS Kuopio and Llanelli AFC will all be looking to make a name for themselves by building on strong opening performances.

Austrian Bundesliga rivals Salzburg and Austria Wien overcame respective opponents SK Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Rudar Pljevlja by three-goal margins to leave themselves with a slightly stronger hand than 2009/10 runners-up Fulham. Martin Jol's men will nonetheless be expectant of a third round match-up with NK Domžale or RNK Split following their 3-1 triumph at Crusaders FC.

The most emphatic result of the first leg was posted by AEK Larnaca, who can begin looking forward to facing FK Mladá Boleslav after they humbled Floriana FC 8-0 in Malta. Several ties retain plenty of intrigue, though, and not least the meeting between MŠK Žilina and KR after the Icelandic outfit slotted three unanswered goals past a team who were rubbing shoulders with Chelsea FC and Olympique de Marseille in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage. Pavel Hapal's charges will be determined to put things right in what promises to be a fascinating return in Slovakia.

The winners of that tie will face either Llanelli or Dinamo Tbilisi in the next round, the Welsh side having also pulled off a surprise by overcoming their Georgian counterparts 2-1 at Parc Y Scarlets thanks to Jordan Follows' double. Had the hosts not conceded a late penalty which was converted by David Odikadze, they might already be contemplating their next mission.

Elsewhere, there are 13 ties still level at the halfway stage and nine clubs looking to maintain or augment 1-0 leads achieved in the first leg, with KuPS flying the flag for Finland against CS Gaz Metan Mediaş of Romania and Greek outfit Olympiacos Volou one up on Serbia's FK Rad, who dispatched SP Tre Penne 9-1 on aggregate in the previous round. KVC Westerlo of Belgium hold the edge on Finnish side TPS Turku thanks to Geoffrey Cabeke's last-gasp winner, meanwhile.

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