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Victorious Vitebsk eye more progress

Belarussian champions Universitet Vitebsk are looking forward to taking on the holders 1. FFC Frankfurt after advancing from the first qualifying round.

At the second attempt Belarussian champions Universitet Vitebsk have progressed beyond the UEFA Women's Cup first qualifying round - and they now face holders 1. FFC Frankfurt.

Gintra repeat
Their campaign in Group A5 began - just as last year on their competition debut - against Lithuanian group hosts Gintra Universitetas. Having won 2-0 last year, Vitebsk secured a 1-0 victory this time thanks to Sviatlana Ryzhova's header after a corner on 34 minutes. Gintra coach Rimantas Viktoravicius said: "The Belarussian team was obviously better than mine."

Decisive win
ASD Fiammamonza also began with a 1-0 win, against ZNK SFK 2000 Sarajevo, so the Matchday 2 encounter between the Italian side and Vitebsk had a decisive look. Last year ASD CF Bardolino Verona had become the only Italian club to go out in the first qualifying round, so Fiammamonza had plenty of incentive to avoid defeat, but Maryna Luchonak struck for Vitebsk on 23 minutes, a strike which proved enough for victory. And when Gintra and Sarajevo drew 1-1 later the same day, Vitebsk were confirmed as group winners.

'Big step'
Luchonak said: "We were lucky to score with our only clear chance. The victory is a very big step." Fiammamonza's Roberta Dadda added: "We committed just one mistake in defence but it cost us the match. Vitebsk are a strong and fit team. I hope we will win our championship and return in 2007/08."

Belarussian pride
Before that there was the meeting with Sarajevo, and although a much-changed Vitebsk lineup lost 1-0 and Fiammamonza defeated Gintra 3-0, the Matchday 2 result ensured Viktar Navumau's team topped the group on head-to-head record. Navumau said: "We are very happy. We will start our preparations as soon as we are home. We want to produce a better performance in September to show how women's football is developing in Belarus."

Second round test
Vitebsk now have the chance to emulate compatriots FC Babruyshanka, who represented Belarus in the first four editions and reached the quarter-finals in 2004/05. They will compete in Group B1 from 12-17 September, against Frankfurt and fellow first qualifying round victors HJK Helskini and Breidablik of Iceland.