Club Brugge KV held firm at the Oláh Gábor stadium in Hungary to secure a scoreless draw against Debreceni VSC, progressing to the fourth round of the UEFA Cup by virtue of a 1-0 win in the first leg of an evenly-contested tie.
Brugge ring changes
Although Debrecen fielded an identical side to that which played last week, Brugge defender David Rozehnal and forwards Sandy Martens and Victor were replaced by Kevin Roelandts, Ivan Gvozdenovic and Gert Verheyen.
The visitors, who failed to make it past the group stage in the UEFA Champions League, would have ideally liked to take more than a slender one-goal advantage on their travels - but, in the end, Norwegian striker Rune Lange's solitary goal last week proved enough.
The midfield battle was intense during the opening exchanges as both sides wrestled for control. Debrecen, who had not played competitively since the first leg because of the winter break in the Hungarian First Division, started brightly and Zoltán Kiss sent an effort over the crossbar in the fifth minute.
Ronald Habi was the next to burst forward for the home side, drilling wide following a low ball into the box from Tibor Dombi. However, it was not until the 18th minute that either team managed a shot on target, when Brugge's Peruvian striker Andrés Mendoza let fly from distance. Goalkeeper Sandro Tomic was equal to it.
The custodian, though, was left helpless in the 24th minute when Nastja Ceh's free-kick took a wicked deflection and almost sneaked in at the far post. In the second half, Brugge nullified any threat coming their way with Olivier De Cock, standing particularly tall at the back, cajoling his colleagues and clearing danger in the air and on the ground.
Both teams could have broken the deadlock. Lange, who is so dangerous in the air, tested Tomic from Verheyen's 78th-minute cross and eight minutes earlier Debrecen captain Tamás Sandor shot from the edge of the box, forcing Verlinden to punch clear. It was the only time the home side came close to scoring, meaning Brugge can now look forward to the first leg of their fourth-round encounter on 11 March.
Brugge coach Trond Sollied praised his charges for pulling through, saying: "
It was a very hard game physically and tactically. Neither team fashioned many opportunities but in the end we got the right result." His counterpart, Lazar Szentes, agreed. "The teams were evenly matched," he said. "We had to be patient and wait for a chance, despite playing at home, but by the final whistle we had not created enough of them."