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Prague Slavia Triumphs 2-0 in Europa League Opener against Luhansk

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Prague Slavia’s football team secured a 2-0 victory against Luhansk in the opening match of the final round of the Europa League’s 4th preliminary round. This win puts them on the path to the group stage. The Czech team had a challenging face-off with the third-ranked Ukrainian team from last season’s top competition. Substitute Muhamed Tijani netted the first goal in the 81st minute, followed by Lukáš Masopust’s insurance goal four minutes later.

The rematch is slated for next week in Lublin, Poland, due to Zorya’s home cup asylum necessitated by the Russian military attack on Ukraine. A loss for Slavia in this promising double-header could still land them a place in the lesser Conference Europa League’s group stage. However, Slavia has secured a spot in the main stage of cups for the seventh consecutive time. This victory comes after two previous wins in the preliminary round against Ukrainian club Dnipro, marking Slavia’s eighth competitive match this season.

Slavia’s coach, Jindřich Trpišovský, expressed contentment with their performance, stating, “In the first half, it was one of our best showings in a while. We would have accepted this result before the game; it’s a favorable starting point.”

In a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine, the Slavia team donned yellow shirts, as they did in their match against Dnipro. The opposing players also exhibited unity by carrying national flags onto the pitch. Home fans commemorated the anniversary of the Warsaw Pact troop occupation with a banner and the singing of the Czech national anthem.

Slavia faced the match without their offensive all-rounder Lingre, who moved to Feyenoord Rotterdam. Coach Trpišovský made some surprising choices in the lineup, leaving key players on the bench.

Throughout the game, Prague dominated the field but struggled to capitalize on numerous clear opportunities during the first half. Masopust’s goal was initially disallowed after the referee reviewed footage, and a favorable ruling by the video referee was overturned due to an apparent handball.

The second half continued with Prague’s persistence, but they faced challenges on the newly laid pitch in Eden. The game saw several missed opportunities from both sides. Ultimately, substitute Muhamed Tijani secured the victory with a goal in the 81st minute.

Reflecting on the win, Tijani expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “I dreamed about it. I’m thrilled with the win and the goal. It’s a big thing, the first game in Europe, and right away the winning goal for my team.”

Slavia’s strong performance in this match positions them well for the upcoming stages of the Europa League, but the return match in Lublin is still crucial to determine their ultimate fate.

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