Two goals from Obiora Odita on his debut were not enough to earn FK Partizan victory as FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk came from behind twice to take the initiative in the first leg of this UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie.
In a match played in freezing temperatures in Belgrade, the Nigerian striker scored at the start and end of the first half to give his team the lead on each occasion. But Dnipro, who managed just four shots all game, responded twice, first through Serhiy Nazarenko before Andriy Rusol earned a draw.
The Ukrainian side began brightly and when Ivica Kralj failed to reach Olexandr Rykun's corner, Siarhei Karnilenka, making his first start for the club, should have done better with a free header. It was another striking debutant who caught the eye, though, with Odita forcing a superb block from goalkeeper Vyacheslav Kernozenko after collecting the ball inside the box.
The disappointment was fleeting, however, and two minutes later the 21-year-old put the hosts ahead. Volodymyr Yezerskyy was guilty of allowing Ivan Tomic to flick the ball into the path of Odita who calmly lifted it over the advancing Kernozenko.
Kernozenko then had to smother a dangerous Simon Vukcevic cross under pressure from Tomic, but with Partizan threatening to double their lead, Nazarenko capitalised on some poor defending to equalise in a rare foray into the Partizan half on 28 minutes. Nenad Djordjevic and Zoran Mirkovic failed to clear, allowing Nazarenko to pounce and sidefoot the ball in.
Tomic dragged a shot wide five minutes before the interval and it looked to be the final chance of the half before Odita restored Partizan's advantage on the stroke of half-time, tapping in after the ball had been chipped over the goalkeeper and into his path. Odita's compatriot Ifeany Emeghara could have improved matters further on 50 minutes, but Kernozenko turned his effort around the post.
Djordjevic headed the resulting corner over the crossbar and Partizan were made to pay for their profligacy when Rusol made it 2-2 on 57 minutes. Nazarenko was the provider, floating a corner to the far post where Karnilenka rose highest to direct the ball into the path of Rusol, who stooped to nod in.
Rotan comes close
Partizan coach Vladimir Vermezovic introduced another forward, Nikola Grubješic, with 30 minutes remaining, and although Ruslan Rotan hit the post with an innocuous-looking drive that bounced awkwardly over Kralj, the risk almost brought reward.
The chance sparked Partizan back to life, and deep into added time Grubješic had the opportunity to steal victory but his header was too weak to direct Nenad Brnovic's cross goalwards and the ball rolled narrowly wide with Kernozenko beaten. The striker may get another run-out in Ukraine next Thursday, however, as Partizan know they must score to remain in the competition.