Promising Start for Georgian Clubs in Europa League

Two victories and an impressive score draw were the admirable sum of the efforts of Georgia's trio of clubs taking part in the Europa League 1st Qualifying Round first legs last night.

Dinamo Batumi, making their first appearance in European competition since 1998, enjoyed a superb 1-0 victory over Omonia Nicosia of Cyprus in their 'home' leg played in Zestafoni. New signing Giorgi Gabedava struck the winning goal in the 40th minute.

In the capital, Dinamo Tbilisi emerged with a 2-1 victory over Azerbaijan's Gabala despite having Giorgi Gvelesiani sent off shortly after half-time with the match goalless at the time. Nevertheless, Jaba Jighauri soon opened the scoring for Dinamo in the 65th minute and, after Cavid Huseynov's stunning equaliser for Gabala, the Georgians secured an unlikely advantage when Giorgi Papunashvili broke through to score in the 84th minute to spark jubilant scenes among a vociferous 8,000 home crowd.

Away from Georgia, FC Tskhinvali made a very respectable debut in Europe, registering a 1-1 draw against Botosani in Romania. Nika Kacharava's leveller just after half-time gives the Georgian club an excellent chance to progress in next week's second leg in Tbilisi.

All three sides play their second legs on Thursday 9 July.

Alastair Watt 

03 July 2015 13:46