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Plzeň earn comeback win against Académica

FC Viktoria Plzeň 3-1 A. Académica de Coimbra
Pavel Vrba's men were forced to come from a goal behind, but three second-half headers secured a deserved opening win.

Michal Ďuriš is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring for Plzeň
Michal Ďuriš is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring for Plzeň ©Getty Images

A trio of second-half headers secured FC Viktoria Plzeň an opening UEFA Europa League Group B victory as they were forced to come from behind against a dogged A. Académica de Coimbra side.

Following a 40-year absence from European competition, it took Académica time to find their feet, but they soaked up intense early pressure before shocking the hosts when Wilson Eduardo finished off a sweeping counterattack. The home side hit the woodwork in response, before second-half strikes from Pavel Horváth, Michal Ďuriš and František Rajtoral rounded off a commanding display.

Plzeň defeated AC Sparta Praha at the weekend to go top of the table in the Czech Republic, and they transferred their strong domestic form into European competition early on as Jakub Hora and František Rajtoral went close. Horváth's free-kick then troubled Ricardo, but the Portuguese Cup winners burst into life in the 19th minute. With their first foray into Plzeň's final third, Salim Cissé streaked clear on the left and crossed low for Eduardo to tap in.

The home team almost responded immediately when Václav Procházka thumped a header against the bar before the break. However, Pavel Vrba's men had to wait less than a minute after the restart to draw level, as Vladimír Darida's corner was turned in by Horváth, with Ricardo fumbling into the net under pressure from Hora.

Twelve minutes later, Ďuriš – scorer of five goals in six UEFA Europa League qualifying games – powered in a near-post header to put Plzeň in front. The points were then wrapped up with ten minutes remaining as Rajtoral made a telling connection to Marek Hanousek's floated left-wing cross.