PFC CSKA Moskva claimed a precious away goal as they held FK Partizan to a 1-1 draw in Belgrade in this UEFA Cup Round of 16 first-leg encounter.
The Russian club gave themselves every chance of progress to the quarter-finals ahead of next Thursday's return at the Kubán stadium thanks to Evgeni Aldonin's well-taken 17th-minute goal. For long periods it looked like Valeriy Gazzaev's organised and disciplined team would return home with a victory but Partizan's valiant second-half efforts eventually paid dividends when Ivan Tomic's penalty levelled matters late on.
The first ten minutes saw end-to-end action as both sides enjoyed chances to secure an early goal. Defender Chidi Odiah worked the first opening, threading his way through the Serbo-Montenegrin side's rearguard only for Nenad Djordjevic to make a vital interception and clear off the line. Partizan were quick to respond, with Obiora Odita unlucky to prod wide with an instinctive shot from close range.
The match was delicately balanced but Aldonin then handed CSKA, impressive winners against Portuguese club SL Benfica in the Round of 32, a crucial advantage. The Russian international midfielder gathered a pass across the box from Daniel Carvalho and swept it into the bottom corner in one flowing and decisive movement.
The onus was then firmly on Partizan, cheered on by their vociferous supporters, to equalise and substitute Miroslav Radovic was the first to go close to doing so, thundering in an accurate drive from outside the box which forced Igor Akinfeev to scramble across his line to save in the 28th minute. From there on, the hosts made all the running and were the more creative side before half-time with Nemanja Rnic, Nenad Brnovic and Dragan Ciric all threatening.
Vladimir Vermezovic's men began the second half with the same intensity. Radovic, who had caught the eye in the lead-up to the interval, forced a good stop from Akinfeev and Simon Vukcevic should have restored parity in the 78th minute but blasted wide after the goalkeeper could only parry Brnovic's drive. However, the home team finally rewarded their fans for their staunch support with seven minutes to go when striker Vágner Love's handball gave them a penalty which Tomic smashed in.