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Second-half surge pushes Salzburg past Slovan

FC Salzburg 3-0 ŠK Slovan Bratislava
Leonardo, Gonzalo Zárate and Dušan Švento scored as Salzburg banished memories of last season's failure to win a group stage fixture.

Simon Cziommer congratulates Leonardo, who opened the scoring for Salzburg
Simon Cziommer congratulates Leonardo, who opened the scoring for Salzburg ©Getty Images

After failing to record a win in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage, FC Salzburg are off and running this campaign thanks to three second-half goals against ŠK Slovan Bratislava.

Leonardo, who struck in both legs of the third qualifying round tie against Slovan's domestic rivals FK Senica, proved the scourge of Slovak opposition once again with a well-placed header on the hour. Gonzalo Zárate's 76th-minute strike and a late Dušan Švento volley were just reward for a dominant second-half display from Ricardo Moniz's men, who can look forward to their Group F trip to Athletic Club on matchday three with renewed confidence.

Jakob Jantscher forced Slovan goalkeeper Lukáš Hroššo into a scrambling save inside three minutes as Salzburg sought an early response to losing their unbeaten Austrian Bundesliga record at the weekend. If the home side came close on that occasion, Slovan were denied the lead only by the woodwork moments later, midfielder Marko Milinković bending an effort against the crossbar from the right-hand corner of the penalty area.

Salzburg survived again on 27 minutes when Martin Dobrotka headed Milinković's corner over the bar from close range, yet the hosts gradually began to gain a measure of control, ending the half with Slovak international Švento lofting an effort wide.

The second half continued in a similar vein, with Salzburg penning their opponents back. Jantscher stung Hroššo's palms with a shot from the edge of the penalty area, but the goalkeeper was powerless to prevent his side falling behind on the hour, when the unmarked Leonardo met Jantscher's left-wing delivery.

Scorer turned provider 14 minutes from time as Leonardo lofted a ball over the Slovan defence for Zárate, who skipped past Hroššo and rifled in from an acute angle. Švento applied the coup de grace in added time from Petri Pasanen's pass.