Both sides came into this Europa Conference League clash on the back of losses in their respective leagues. Astana were the victims of a 2-0 defeat at the hands of FC Aktobe in the Kazakhstan Premier League and currently sat bottom of Group C still in search of their first points. Viktoria Plzeň also lost narrowly to Sparta Prague in the Czech First League, although they won their first group game against Ballkani last time out, and looked to build on that here.
AST: Condric; Hovhannisyan, Haroyan, Marochkin, Tomasevic, Vorogovskiy, Loncar, Kuat, Ourega, Tomasov, Darboe
PLZ: Stanek; Dweh, Hranac, Hejda; Cadu, Bucha, Kalvach, Kopic, Sulc, Chory, Durosinmi
A breezy night in Kazakhstan began with the home side mostly keeping the ball early on and forcing the first chance of the game as Fabien Ourega latched onto the ball just outside the Viktoria Plzen area, and unleashed an effort that was rather unlucky to fly over the bar.
It was then Plzen’s turn to record their first chance of the game after winning a free kick just outside the Astana box; Lukas Kalvach’s attempt drifting over the bar instead, leaving Josip Condric with nothing to worry about in the home goal. Kalvach then connected well with Rafiu Durosinmi’s corner and fired a volley which bounced just past the far post.
Astana thought they had the opening goal of the game, as Jindrich Stanek came too far out to collect the ball and Marin Tomasov had an empty goal to tap the ball into, but as soon as the ball went in, the celebrations were halted as the offside flag was up.
While the game was proving to be an end-to-end affair, it had also become quiet in the way of chances. That was, until the second half started off in the perfect fashion for Astana, as they took the lead. Dembo Darboe received the ball down the right hand side and looked for his strike partner Marin Tomasov in the box. Darboe then found his captain, and the Astana #10 made no mistake as he swept the ball past Jindrich Stanek.
With Astana taking the lead in the 51st minute, Plzen knew they had to reply quickly, and they did just that three minutes later. Sampson Dweh’s burst of pace allowed him to look up quickly and find Tomas Chory in the box, and the away side’s #15 got up highest and headed the ball home past Condric.
The crazy start to the second half then got even better for Miroslav Koubek’s side just moments later as they took the lead. Jan Kopic had been pushing forward for his side all game, and he got his just rewards when his run down the right hand side saw the Czech Republic international cut inside and fire past Josip Condric into the far corner, albeit with some help from teammate Lukas Kalvach.
Former Derby County and Burnley forward Matej Vydra was among the substitutes for Plzen, and he replaced Tomas Chory with ten minutes to go in this game. While it was a attack-minded substitution from Koubek, it was also one that didn’t have an impact on the game, as FK Viktoria Plzen took all three points back to the Czech Republic.
In terms of next time out for both sides, Astana will return to Kazakhstan Premier League action after the international break, where they’ll face Zhetysu in a 11am EKT kick-off (4pm UK).
FK Viktoria Plzen, however, return home to the Doosan Arena to take on Jablonec in the FortunaLiga – 5pm UK time kick-off this Saturday.