Despite plenty of chances for both sides, FK Baku and Levski Sofia could not find the net as their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg ended goalless.
The home team came into the tie after a four-goal second-half blitz accounted for FK Ekranas in the previous round and although they tested visiting goalkeeper Georgi Petkov, they could not make the breakthrough. Levski will host next week’s decider with the slight edge after keeping the Azerbaijani champions at bay in Baku.
With first-choice goalkeeper Khalidou Sissokho and influential captain Bavhtiyar Soltanov suspended, Baku coach Gjokica Hadzievski was forced into making two changes from the lineup that started against Ekranas.
With a play-off berth at stake, both sides contributed to a nervy opening and the first real chance did not come until the 32nd minute when BakÃ½’s Deniran Ortega headed wide.
The hosts received a big blow three minutes after the break when striker Felix Felipe Almeida was substituted following an accidental collision with Levski’s Cedric Bardon. The game had opened up by this point and the visitors went close on a number of occasions while at the other end, Petkov could only parry Amiran Mujiri’s 55th-minute free-kick.
Felipe’s replacement, William Rocha Batista, mis-hit a 73rd-minute effort before heading straight at a grateful Petkov with time running out. In the fifth minute of added time, Baku almost secured an advantage for the second leg when an unusual mistake from Petkov gave Fabio Luis Ramim a clear sight of goal but the Brazilian striker could not convert the home team’s best opportunity of the game.