Branko Oblak's reign as Slovenia coach began in fine fashion as a Milenko Acimovic hat-trick inspired his side to a comfortable victory against Moldova in Celje, earning three valuable Group 5 points in qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in the process.
 The comfortable margin of victory means that Slovenia are the early pacesetters in the section, and will be looking to build on this win as they prepare to visit Scotland on Wednesday night. Moldova, meanwhile, must regroup quickly ahead of their home game with Italy – 2-1 winners against Norway tonight – the same day.
 With Slovenia moving from Ljubljana for the first time in a decade, home fans might have been forgiven for expecting some early nerves from their favourites. In fact the opposite proved to be the case, with Nastja Ceh going close inside the very first minute. Those supporters did not have to wait long for a breakthrough however, with Acimovic shooting past Moldovan goalkeeper Evghenii Hmaruc from 14 metres five minutes later to give Slovenia the lead.
 The goal did not stop the home team pressing forward and the Moldovan defence was pushed back deep inside their own half with Acimovic, Ceh and Zlatko Dedic all particularly influential. The latter came close to doubling the advantage in the 13th minute, but his strike was ruled out for offside.
 Although Yuri Miterev twice threatened for the visitors, those efforts proved to be the best Moldova could muster in the first 45 minutes. Slovenia duly made it two in the 28th minute, Ceh's cross giving Acimovic the chance to head his and Austria's second beyond Hmaruc.
 Slovenia continued to press forward after the restart and scored their third goal in the 49th minute, with Acimovic again on target. He collected possession around 20 metres from goal and worked space for the shot before finding the net from close range.
 With a comfortable cushion, the home team took their foot off the pedal, allowing Moldova more into the game on the counterattack, but Miterev's 53rd-minute effort that struck the crossbar was as close as the visitors came.