In charge from the first whistle at the Straha Stadium, goals from Dimitar Berbatov after four minutes and Robbie Keane on the half-hour put us on the road to that overall advantage by half-time.
However, home keeper Martin Vaniak was in inspired form, producing a string of outstanding saves and then the home side profited from an error by Radek Cerny to make it 2-1. They also hit the woodwork with five minutes remaining.
“The idea was to come here and if we were having a good day and creating chances to take them and try to finish the whole qualification,” reflected Gus in Prague. “That’s difficult to do for different reasons and at the end it wasn’t to be.
“We had a lot of space to play and we were clever to pass the ball and create chances, we scored early as well and maybe that was the 45 minutes to finish it. We also had chances in the second half.
“We had a great chance to take advantage, now we have to play a hard second leg at home to complete our qualification.
“However, if you said before the game we would win 2-1 I would have taken it, it’s a win away from home, scoring two goals. We came to win and did that.”
Gus Poyet had mixed feelings after the 2-1 win at Slavia Prague in the first leg of our UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie.Although delighted to win, coach Gus felt the chance was there to put the issue beyond doubt with the return leg at the Lane on Thursday week, February 21.