A thunderous late strike from Massimiliano Fusani earned AC Perugia victory in an end-to-end UEFA Cup first round first-leg encounter and severely dented Dundee FC's chances of progressing.
Exciting stuff it may have been, but it was not the result the Scottish side wanted and leaves the Italian outfit in the driving seat for the return. Indeed, Perugia started off the brightest, testing Dundee's Argentinian keeper Julian Speroni from the first whistle.
Jose Ferreira worked on his judgement and athleticism with a powerful lob from midfield, whilst Zisas Vryzas, who scored against AC Milan in Serie A action at the weekend, examined Speroni's reflexes from closer range.
On the break
Dundee had the better run of play in the first half, forcing Perugia to rely on counterattacks. Juan Sara and Ignacio Novo ran ceaselessly at the Perugia back line, bursting through it on occasion, but with top scorer Fabian Cabellero suspended, there was nobody there to get the ball into the back of the net.
Perugia were at their most dangerous on the counterattack. Just after the break Sara missed the clearest chance of the game with an open header from two metres out. He soon rued that miss as goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac pushed the ball upfield and Marco Di Loreto got his foot to a cross and knocked it over the outstretched Speroni.
The goal spurred Dundee on. Garry Brady came on for the weary Steve Lovell and immediately made an impact. His persistance in the box led to a corner that he took, aiming it at the bald head of Lee Wilkie. Unlike his strikers, the central defender made no mistake.
After that either team could have scored, although Perugia looked more likely to make something out of nothing. Right up to the end, chips and shots rained in from midfield, all of which Speroni was able to gather.
That was until Fusani found himself unmarked outside the box in the 84th minute. He gathered the ball, controlled it, then turned and launched a fabulous goal-bound shot. Dundee's tiredness had cost them dear.
After the game, Dundee manager Jim Duffy said he was proud of their attitude. "The team gave 100 per cent," he said. "That was an education for us but we are still in the tie. Their winner was a classic case of counterattack. It was a fantastic game of fooball."
Dundee have made things difficult for themselves by leaking two away goals but with the lessons they have learned, and the return of Caballero, Duffy belives they are still in with a chance. "You never know," he added. "They might get complacent at home, and we should have a few players back, so it is all to play for."