Challenge Cup semi-final, first leg: Nottingham Panthers 1-5 Belfast Giants

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Belfast Giants won 5-1 in Nottingham

Belfast Giants look set for a Challenge Cup final spot after a 5-1 away hammering of Nottingham Panthers in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

Goals from David Rutherford and Jim Vandermeer gave Belfast a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period.

Steve Saviano extended Belfast's advantage and while Mark Derlago replied, Spiro Goulakos and Sebastien Sylvestre notched further Giants goals.

The second leg takes place in Belfast next Wednesday.

In the other semi-final first leg, Sheffield Steelers defeated Elite League leaders Cardiff 6-2 on Wednesday night and are also in a strong position to qualify for the final which takes place in the Welsh capital on 4 March.

Belfast's win on Wednesday represented an impressive response after Sunday's 8-0 Elite League hammering by Sheffield.

Before next Wednesday's semi-final second leg, Belfast have home Elite League games on Friday and Saturday night against Cardiff.