Club Brugge KV finally ignited their UEFA Europa League ambitions after Ivan Perišić inspired them to a 2-0 home victory against FK Partizan.
The Croatian midfielder had an eventful match – scoring an early opener, missing a penalty, and firing in a 58th-minute effort that was turned in by Partizan's Rajko Brežančić to clinch Club Brugge's 100th win in UEFA competition. The Belgian success lifted Adrie Koster's side into second place in Group J while Partizan remained point-less and facing an almighty task to progress from the section.
Just four minutes had elapsed when Club Brugge went in front. Boxed in near the corner flag, Karel Geraerts dug out a deep cross which Perišić headed firmly past goalkeeper Aleksandar Radosavljević. Joseph Akpala nearly added another after taking advantage of Siniša Stevanović's miscued clearance to drill in a volley, only a fine reaction save from Radosavljević denying the Nigerian.
Partizan's cause was hardly helped when captain Goran Gavrančić was forced off in the 14th minute. Replacement Nenad Djordjević's first contribution was not a positive one, conceding a penalty as he blocked Geraerts. Perišić stepped up but his floated effort struck the crossbar and his follow-up header was ruled out because no other player had touched the ball. Home goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen was a virtual spectator for the first half-hour, but was on hand to make a superb flying stop when, out of nowhere, Branislav Jovanović unleashed a fierce long-range drive.
Partizan were beginning to exert a degree of control, but just as confidence was growing, Perišić made another decisive contribution by bursting on to Nabil Dirar's astute ball and striking across Radosavljević. Visiting left-back Brežančić flew in to block the shot yet merely succeeded in turning it into his own net. From then on it was plain sailing for Club Brugge and they saw out the final 30 minutes comfortably, with one eye no doubt on strengthening their Group J position in the return fixture in Belgrade on 5 November.