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Vaduz break European duck

Thursday, 15 July 2004

By David Farrelly at the Rheinpark stadium

[1] A 77th-minute goal from substitute Michele Polverino provided FC Vaduz with their first-ever victory in Europe in 21 attempts, and an opening-leg lead to take to the Republic of Ireland as they defeated Longford Town FC in their UEFA Cup first qualifying round engagement.

Late winner

[2] The match seemed destined to end scoreless as both sides lacked the requisite vision and creativity in the final third before Polverino gained possession midway inside the Longford half and picked his spot from 12 metres with a low shot that eluded the diving Stephen O'Brien inside his right-hand post.

Early exchanges

[3] Longford, despite their poor recent form domestically, started brightest but Sean Prunty spurned a promising opportunity when firing the ball across the face of goal after a combination of Eric Lavine and Vinny Perth had robbed Vaduz captain Martin Stocklasa in midfield. But, despite dominating possession, Longford failed to muster any consistent threat in front of goal and Phillip Keogh's long-range effort which whistled narrowly wide of Carlos Silva's right-hand post was the only other chance they created during a positive opening spell.

Stocklasa chance

[4] Vaduz, who entered the competition as Liechtenstein Cup winners although they also compete in the Swiss domestic league, soaked up what their Irish opponents had to offer and created a succession of scoring chances around the half-hour, the pick of which came from Stocklasa, who rose highest at the far post to meet Marius Zarn's cross only to fail to find the target.

Prunty close

[5] The visitors responded before the break, but Prunty again wasted a good opportunity when lobbing wide of the target from inside the penalty area and then substitute Dean Fitzgerald, introduced for the injured Keogh, volleyed over when Prunty's corner was only half-cleared. But Longford remained unsure defensively and O'Brien was required to deny Marco PĂ©rez's low long-range effort before saving with his feet from Eduardo Dos Santos, who was quick to exploit Barry Ferguson's under-hit backpass.

Game opens up

[6] Tonight's game opened up as a contest after the interval and Stocklasa should have profited from some poor Longford defending after 54 minutes only to mis-hit his shot from ten metres. Dos Santos then shot over from eight metres moments later after being played in by Pulverino before Thomas Weller hit the side-netting as O'Brien scrambled desperately to clear the ball following another defensive slip.

Decisive goal

[7] But Prunty displayed that the visitors still posed a scoring threat when volleying narrowly over from the edge of the penalty area on the hour before Fitzgerald headed Sean Dillon's cross wide and Shane Barrett fired narrowly over. That was until Pulverino had the final say, and with only eleven goals in 21 games this season, Longford will need to find their scoring form on 29 July.

Martin Stocklasa captained Vaduz tonight