Swiss football club St Gallen appear to be on the brink of a place in Europe after winning the away leg of their UEFA Cup qualifying round tie against Macedonian side Pelister Bitola. A goal at the start of Thursday's match and one at the very end were enough to wrap up a 2-0 victory and leave St Gallen within touching distance of a place in the UEFA Cup's first round proper.
Brazilian midfielder Guido opened the scoring with just four minutes played, but hopes of a Swiss landslide failed to materialise as a further 86 minutes went by without another goal.
But just as it seemed that St Gallen would be heading into the home leg with the narrowest of leads, Italian defender Ivan dal Santo scored in injury time, to double the Swiss side's lead and make the second meeting in two weeks time little more than a formality.
"We fulfilled our goal: to win the match without conceding any goals," St Gallen trainer Marcel Koller said.
"I would have like to have seen better play but the high temperatures never helped things," Koller continued. Temperatures during play soared above thirty degrees centigrade.
"We lost control of the ball too many times which meant we didn't score higher," Koller added.
swissinfo with agencies
The result will come as a welcome relief to Koller's squad who have made a far from convincing start to the new Swiss season. The year 2000 champions have won just one of their opening six league matches and are currently ninth in the 12-team division.
"This away victory will boost our morale after the repeated mistakes made during the championships," St Gallen defender, Patrick Winkler, said.
The small club from east Switzerland will certainly do well to match their European exploits of last season when they overcame English Premier League side Chelsea in the UEFA Cup first round. Koller's men also missed out only narrowly on a place in the Champions League after drawing away to Turkish giants Galatasaray.
Thursday's win over Pelister completes a fairly successful week for Swiss football clubs on the fringe of Europe's biggest competitions.
On Tuesday Basel came back from a goal down to draw with England's Aston Villa in the last round of the Intertoto Cup, while Swiss champions Grasshoppers Zurich did their Champions League qualifying hopes a power of good on Wednesday with an away draw against the powerful Portuguese club Porto.
swissinfo with agencies