SK Slavia Praha played some neat football in Belgrade but were undone by some clinical finishing from a FK Partizan side who will be confident of protecting their lead in the second leg and advancing from this UEFA Cup second-round tie.
Conquerors of Portuguese double-winners Sporting Clube de Portugal in the first round, Partizan took a fourth-minute lead through Danko Lazovic and Sasa Ilic made it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark. Richard Dostálek hauled Slavia back into the tie eleven minutes after the break but Partizan had the final say through Zvonomir Vukic with a shade over 20 minutes remaining.
Partizan started strongly and opened the scoring from their first incisive attack. Ivica Ilijev robbed a Slavia player before feeding Nenad Miskovic whose instinctive pass to Lazovic was dispatched with aplomb from ten metres. Slavia responded well, passing the ball confidently yet rarely looking like creating the sort of opening which saw Partizan make it 2-0 in the 32nd minute.
A sweeping move ended up with Milivoje Cirkovic sending a delicious through-ball into the path of his captain, Ilic, who beat Radek Cerny in the Slavia goal with a confident finish. Lesser teams may have buckled but Slavia started the second half as the home side had the first and, like Partizan, were rewarded with a goal.
Crucial away goal
The veteran Radek Bejbl was the instigator, teeing up Dostálek to halve the deficit. Despite scoring a crucial away goal, Slavia will have it all to do in the Czech capital in a fortnight's time after Vukic blasted in the final goal of an entertaining match off the bar in the 69th minute.
’Not a huge advantage’
The coach of Partizan, Ljubiša Tumbakovic, refused to believe the tie had been won tonight. "This is not a huge advantage," he said, "but it is a good result. It was difficult and I admit we had a bit of luck. Slavia played exactly how I imagined, using short passes to work their way up the pitch."
Slavia coach Miroslav Beránek felt Partizan "deserved to win" before saying of his own side's showing: "We helped them win by making numerous mistakes. However, although I am not satisfied with the result I am with the performance of my players."