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Profligate Partizan survive Pyunik test

FK Partizan 3-1 FC Pyunik
Well-taken goals from Nemanja Tomić, Almani Moreira and Cléo earned the Serbian titleholders a home win but they could regret a defensive lapse.

Cléo (right) scored Partizan's third
Cléo (right) scored Partizan's third ©AFP

FK Partizan took a tentative step towards the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round after well-taken goals from Nemanja Tomić, Almani Moreira and Cléo earned a 3-1 home win against FC Pyunik.

The Serbian titleholders were massive favourites coming into the match and looked good for their billing when Tomić broke the deadlock with a stunning 29th-minute free-kick. Yet they would not have it all their own way. Within 60 seconds Artak Yedigaryan made it 1-1 after a defensive mix-up. Moreira restored the advantage on half-time, with Cléo's strike before the hour meaning they will take a two-goal lead to Armenia next Wednesday.

It is perhaps tighter than coach Aleksandar Stanojević may have expected, especially after a bright opening that should have yielded better reward than poor efforts from Moreira and Marko Šćepanović. There was nothing disappointing about Tomić's free-kick, however, rifled high into the net only for a defensive lapse to let Yedigaryan in. It would be a lesson the hosts failed to learn.

Moreira latched onto a brilliant Saša Ilić pass to make it 2-1 before the interval but again the good work was almost undone immediately as Gevorg Ghazaryan was allowed to get a shot away. Radiša Ilić saved well, and Partizan were grateful for the breathing space afforded by Cléo's goal, chipped over Artur Lesko. But for the goalkeeper the home side may have extended their lead; instead they travel to Armenia knowing there is still much to do.

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