Harald Brattbakk's second-half goal proved enough to hand Rosenborg BK a hard-earned victory against FK Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade.
The first leg of the second-round tie in Trondheim had finished goalless four weeks ago, and many feared for the prospects of the Norwegian champions, who wrapped up a 12th successive league title in late September. But the concern was unfounded as the visitors produced a disciplined and composed display which will provide confidence for their next game in the competition in February.
The opening 45 minutes were extremely closely contested with each team matching the other in terms of commitment and desire. The first effort of the encounter arrived as early as the second minute when striker Bojan Djordjic hit a low shot from outside the box wide of the post.
During the frenetic early exchanges, Brattbakk was first to threaten for the visitors, hooking a pass into the box which his lively strike partner Oyvind Storflor struggled unsuccessfully to bring under control. As the encounter approached the interval, Djordjic again went close with a lobbed effort that drifted over while Nemanja Vidic shot into the safe hands of the unflappable Árni Gautur Arason. Jan Gunnar Solli's dipping drive - nicely tipped over by Vladimir Disljenkovic - proved to be the last action of the half.
But the second period was an entirely different proposition following Brattbakk's decisive goal in the 51st minute. Storlor was the provider, making an incisive breakaway down the right flank and picking out his accomplice in attack, who kept his nerve to comfortably slot in.
Far from sitting back and defending their lead, Rosenborg weathered the inevitable storm and kept an eye out for counterattacking opportunities. This was underlined when coach Åge Hareide replaced striker Azar Karadas with midfield player Fredrik Winsnes with just over twenty minutes to go.
Nevertheless, Slavoljub Muslin’s charges certainly fashioned chances in the remainder of the encounter. The majority of them fell to Nikola Žigic, who made his substantial physical presence felt at every available moment.
Hareide was predictably delighted with the result. "This is the special thing about the UEFA Cup," he said. "You can score one goal in two games and sneak through. That is the spirit of the competition.
I was impressed with the crowd and the atmosphere. I have never seen anything like it."
Muslin, though, was less happy. "My men wanted to score so much they forgot how to play," he said. "We were sending long balls over the top, when this is not the kind of game Crvena Zvezda traditionally play. But I give credit to Hareide and all his team. It is a glorious result for them."