Club Brugge KV kept alive their hopes of progressing from the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time, as they beat SK Rapid Wien by a solitary goal in the Austrian capital.
Boško Balaban scored on 75 minutes with a fortunate finish to give the Belgian champions their first points in Group A following a game full of chances which either side could have won.
Both teams had gone into the match in indifferent form, Rapid having won only one game in eleven, and Club Brugge one in five. The Austrian title-holders made two changes to the lineup that lost to SV Austria Salzburg on Saturday, with Marcin Adamski and György Korsós coming in. Meanwhile, the visitors showed one alteration – Jonathan Blondel for Olivier De Cock – to their winning side against KVC Westerlo.
Whatever the amendments, they made for an exciting start. Two minutes in, Club Brugge's Balaban drove the ball across the face of goal but just out of reach for the in-rushing Javier Portillo. Then, three minutes later, Rapid created a good opening – Axel Lawaree sending Steffen Hofmann away only for the captain to be denied by a smart save from the feet of Tomislav Butina.
On 24 minutes, Marek Kincl turned the ball wide at the near post after a surging run down the left and cross from Adamski. Club Brugge came straight back, however, as was the pattern of the game, with Helge Payer at his best to get his hand to a Grégory Dufer drive headed for the bottom corner, and steer it around the post.
From the half-hour mark it was Rapid who took control. A sustained period of pressure commenced with a teasing stab across goal from the influential Andreas Ivanschitz which went agonisingly beyond the stretch of Kincl. Hofmann then fired over when it seemed he had more time ten metres out, and moments later Adamski also got underneath his long-range effort.
Three minutes before the break Rapid thought they had made the breakthrough. An Ivanschitz corner was met at the near post by Peter Hlinka whose header was stopped by the chest of Butina amid claims from Rapid players that the ball had crossed the line. Referee Stuart Dougal waved away the protests and within seconds the home side nearly found themselves behind. However, Philippe Clement could not convert after finding himself all alone in the Rapid area.
The second half started as the first had ended, with Rapid on top and Ivanschitz dictating play. The Austrian international twice sent over precision crosses from the left for Kincl in the opening 12 minutes - the first saved by the legs of Butina and the second striking the crossbar with the Croatian goalkeeper beaten.
While Rapid were failing to take their opportunities, Club Brugge were threatening with Balaban becoming more and more involved and hitting two curling efforts just past the post. Then, with 15 minutes remaining, he scrappily turned the ball home at the far post from a Dufer centre for the crucial goal.