Sporting Clube de Portugal 1-3 FK Partizan
They say things happen in threes and Sporting Clube de Portugal may well curse their luck in being matched with an historic old rival in FK Partizan.
The Yugoslavian side, who defeated Sporting in their first ever European tie in the 1955/56 European Champion Clubs' Cup and repeated the feat in the early 1960s, are on course for a third win against the Portuguese double winners after this first leg away success in Lisbon tonight.
Lacked finishing touch
Sporting coach Lazlo Bölöni - watching from the stands after his sending-off in the UEFA Champions League qualifier against Internazionale FC - will more likely curse the circumstances that have denied him the services of his three main forwards, Mario Jardel, João Pinto and Sá Pinto. In their absence, Sporting lacked a finishing touch and were undone by some clever counterattacking from Partizan.
With initially, it should be said, a little help from their foes, as Hugo turned a Zvonimir Vukic corner into his own net on 12 minutes. A goal behind, Sporting responded well and drew level on 27 minutes when Toñito latched on to a long ball from Paulo Bento and finished past Radovan Radakovic.
After Marius Niculae directed a header straight at Radakovic, Partizan reclaimed the lead on 37 minutes on a breakaway. Goran Trobok crossed from the right and Andrija Delibasic got in front of Hugo to volley past Tiago. Sporting again came back but would pay for their flimsy finishing.
Iliev clinches victory
Moments before the break Toñito had a shot cleared off the line by Igor Duljaj. Then, into the second half, Beto's free-kick struck the top of the crossbar and, on 68 minutes, Toñito missed a tap-in from Quaresma's cross. That was as close as Sporting got and instead it was Partizan who struck again. Nenad Miskovic beat three defenders and crossed for Ivica Iliev to confirm the visitors' victory from close range.