Maribor hold the upper hand in their tie against FC Zurich after securing a shock 3-2 win in Switzerland.
Zurich’s hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League playoff round received a huge blow in a thrilling first leg which produced four goals in the first half-hour. After Johan Vonlanthen had given the hosts a fourth-minute lead, two goals from Marcos put the visitors on top before Eric Hassli levelled matters once again.
However, Maribor were not to be denied and secured a famous victory through Zoran Pavlovic’s 50th-minute effort.
Prior to the match, Zurich coach Bernard Challandes had demanded a two-goal victory from his team. They got off to the perfect start when Vonlanthen applied the finishing touch after good work by Hassli.
The Swiss side then created several opportunities to increase their lead, but Maribor kept their cool and responded well. Marcos equalised after pouncing on an error by home goalkeeper Andrea Guatelli, who was standing in for the injured Johnny Leoni.
With 22 minutes played Marcos added a second, before this topsy-turvy game was given another twist when Dusan Djuric set up Hassli, who equalized for the Swiss titleholders.
The decisive goal came at the start of the second half when Pavlovic, perhaps the most influential figure on the pitch, scored directly from a corner to put Maribor firmly in control of the tie.
With eight minutes remaining, the same player had the chance to give his side an even healthier advantage ahead of the second leg but could not score from the penalty spot.