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Partizan leave HJK on the brink

FK Partizan 3-0 HJK Helsinki
Goals from Ivica Iliev, Saša Ilić and Cléo have given HJK a mammoth task ahead of next week's return.

Saša Ilić celebrates after doubling Partizan's lead
Saša Ilić celebrates after doubling Partizan's lead ©FK Partizan

FK Partizan took a firm grip on their UEFA Champions League third qualifying round tie against HJK Helsinki thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win in Belgrade.

Ivica Iliev's early strike and an effort from Saša Ilić three minutes before the break gave Aleksandar Stanojević's team a two-goal lead at half-time. HJK squandered a great chance to level when substitute Akseli Pelvas failed to punish an error by goalkeeper Radiša Ilić, and were duly given a greater mountain to climb in next week's return by Cléo's strike in added time.

Iliev gave Partizan an eighth-minute lead following Radosav Petrović's searching pass, and was then denied by goalkeeper Ville Wallén after weaving his way inside from the left. However, Wallén's failure to cleanly gather Nemanja Tomić's left-wing cross three minutes before the interval would prove costly as Ilić pounced from close range to double Partizan's advantage.

A hitherto muted presence in attack, HJK threatened for the first time when substitute Jarno Parikka directed Rafinha's delivery over the crossbar seven minutes into the second half. Partizan responded with Cléo heading Aleksandar Lazevski's centre wide before Pelvas, another replacement, passed up HJK's big chance. Cléo made the Finnish club pay in the second minute of added time, receiving Lazevski's pass on the edge of the area and beating Wallén with a shot which dipped under the crossbar.