“Maribor” Opens the European Football Season with a Victory over the Champion of Iceland
Slovenia’s Champion “Maribor” started the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League with a home victory over the Icelandic “Hafnarfjarðar” (1:0). The Brazilian striker Marcos Tavares scored the goal.
Mariborers from the first minutes predictably began to attack the Icelanders, locking the guests in their half of the field. Marwan Kabha fired the first shot on target in the 8th minute, but the Hafnarfjarðar’s goalkeeper Gunnar Nielsen stayed focused.
Having withstood the initial onslaught of the hosts, Icelandic footballers seized the initiative and conducted several dangerous attacks. Subsequently, Hafnarfjarðar built a deeply echeloned defense difficult to break through for the Slovenes. At the 29th minute, Valon Ahmedi ventured to a long-range shot, but he lacked accuracy.
At the 43rd minute, Kabha had an opportunity to give Maribor a lead, but after a brilliant solo passage, he hit the crossbar of Icelanders. In the last minute of the first half, Ahmedi took a dangerous free corner kick, but the ball went above the gate.
In the second half, the Maribor players continued to attack and on the 54th minute opened the account. Aleksander Rajčević delivered a right pass to the box towards Marcos Tavares, who shot an accurate header to the bottom corner of Nielsen’s gates.
The scored goal inspired Mariborers. However, they missed several suitable moments to score. In the 67th minute, after a pass from the box, Blaž Vrhovec had a great chance to shot a header, but the ball went above the gate. In the 75th and 78th minutes, Damjan Bohar and Luka Zahović took the field from the Maribor’s side, replacing Ahmedi and Jasmin Mešanović. The last minutes of the match were spent in desperate attempts of Icelanders to recoup.
The return meeting will be held on 2 August in Hafnarfjörður.
Maribor (Slovenia) – Hafnarfjarðar (Iceland) 1:0 (0:0)
8,166 spectators; Tavares, 54.
Maribor: Handanović, Palčič, Rajčević, Šuler, Viler, Vrhovec (Pihler, 89), Kabha, Ahmedi (Bohar, 75), Tavares, Bajde, Mešanović (Zahović, 78).
Hafnarfjarðar: Nielsen, Bodvarsson, Doumbia, P. Vidarsson, Olafsson, Valdimarsson (Crawford, 78), D. Vidarsson, Palsson, Gudnason, Lennon (Björnsson, 90), Finnbogason.
Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia).