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Honours even for Partizan and Anderlecht

FK Partizan 2-2 RSC Anderlecht
This tie remains wide open after a cagey first leg in Serbia burst into life with four goals in 13 minutes at the start of the second period.

Roland Juhász scored Anderlecht's equaliser
Roland Juhász scored Anderlecht's equaliser ©AFP

RSC Anderlecht and FK Partizan will head into next Tuesday's play-off second leg with their group-stage ambitions very much alive after trading four goals in 13 second-half minutes.

Following a nervy first half the game exploded into life after the restart as the first four shots on target all went in. Anderlecht struck first, Guillaume Gillet capping a forceful run into the area with a similarly vigorous header but the top scorer in the competition this season, Cléo, claimed his sixth of the campaign and a Jan Lecjaks own goal turned the game on its head. Partizan celebrations were short-lived, however, as Roland Juhász made it 2-2 meaning it is all to play for in Belgium.

It was in sharp contrast to the cagiest of first halves, with damage limitation the key as both sides sat back and got men behind the ball. They could be forgiven for caution: 12 months ago Anderlecht were 4-0 down 45 minutes into their tie with Olympique Lyonnais, their group-stage dream in tatters. Partizan, meanwhile, have only once graced the UEFA Champions League.

It was the Serbian titleholders' two veterans from that 2003/04 campaign, Ivica Iliev and Saša Ilić, who were showing much of the game's attacking intent. Iliev in particular was causing Ondřej Mazuch problems on the left but for the most part Partizan never got past Cheikhou Kouyaté, Anderlecht's robust midfield anchor. Radosav Petrović was deployed in a similar role for the home side – he had little to do.

The second half was a different proposition entirely. Gillet opened the floodgates, rising unopposed to meet Lecjaks' lovely deep cross with the firmest of headers. Lecjaks was perhaps at fault for the equaliser three minutes later as he failed to track Cléo, allowing the Brazilian time to take a pass over the back line in his stride before adroitly dinking over Silvio Proto.

It got worse for the left-back when he got his feet in a tangle as he prepared to clear Iliev's cross, volleying into the far corner instead, before the pendulum swung one final time. Amid the glut of goals Kanu's introduction just after the hour barely went unnoticed but he soon made his presence felt, reacting quickest when a free-kick ballooned into the air and nonchalantly flicking into the path of Juhász who could not miss, to leave the tie finely balanced.