AC Sparta Praha 3-1 Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC
Vítězslav Lavička's men are in a strong position in Group I after three first-half goals made the difference.
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An early onslaught from AC Sparta Praha proved too much for Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC as three first-half goals made the difference in the Czech Republic.
Coming in to the game with no win in their last six matches in all competitions, the visitors' task was made all the harder as Ladislav Krejčí and Václav Kadlec put Sparta two up in the opening ten minutes. Ondřej Švejdík headed in a third before the break to leave Vítězslav Lavička's men in a strong position in Group I at the halfway stage, despite Shimon Abuhazira's consolation.
The win means Sparta are now undefeated in ten European outings at home, and they quickly showed how much they enjoy playing at the Stadion Letná. Hapoel goalkeeper Daniel Amos had already denied Mario Holek and Leony Kweuke excellently when he half-stopped Krejčí's low volley on seven minutes, allowing the winger to follow up and tap in the loose ball. Kweuke was denied again almost immediately, before Kadlec was released into the area on the right and drilled his team's second goal sharply into the far corner.
The hosts dominated but struggled to stretch their lead as Manuel Pamić, Josef Hušbauer and Kadlec all fired off target. A third strike nonetheless came eventually came as Jiří Jarošík headed Marek Matějovský's free-kick back across goal, gifting his central-defensive partner Švejdík the simplest of finishes on the stroke of half-time.
Dušan Matović tested Tomáš Vaclík after the break as Barak Bakhar's side rallied, and a 76th-minute goal presented them with a glimmer of hope as Abuhazira chipped in a delightful finish. However, it was too late to deny Sparta a triumph which leaves them five points clear in second place ahead of their trip to Kiryat Shmona on 8 November.