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Partizan bow out with Shakhtar scalp

FK Partizan 1-0 FC Shakhtar Donetsk
The hosts ended a disappointing European campaign on a high with a narrow victory over the Group J winners in icy Belgrade.

Jadson evades Partizan's Ljubomir Fejsa
Jadson evades Partizan's Ljubomir Fejsa ©AFP

FK Partizan ended a disappointing UEFA Europa League campaign on a high with a narrow victory against previously unbeaten Group J winners FC Shakhtar Donetsk in snow-covered Belgrade.

Rare victory
An early strike from Lamine Diarra, capitalising on a slip from goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov, proved sufficient for the hosts to register their first points of the section and halt a losing run of UEFA club competition group-stage games which stood at 12 matches. For their part, Shakhtar rarely threatened in what were difficult conditions for both sides, but can console themselves with the fact they will be seeded for Friday's round of 32 draw.

Early breakthrough
Shakhtar had conceded only two goals in five UEFA Europa League matches this term so it was somewhat of a surprise that Partizan breached the visitors' defence inside six minutes. Marko Lomić whipped in a cross from the left and, attempting to gather a header on, Pyatov came unstuck on the slippery surface, allowing Diarra to turn and fire into the unguarded net.

Božović save
With the pitch doing both teams no favours, chances were sparse as the half drew to a close. The second period began with Pyatov comfortably saving from Srdja Knežević, while on 54 minutes Shakhtar pressed Mladen Božović into meaningful action for the first time when Fernandinho had an effort pushed around the post.

Difficult conditions
With the snow continuing to fall, Shakhtar began to up the tempo although it was the hosts who were next to threaten when substitute Branislav Jovanović broke down the left and scooped his shot straight at Pyatov. Mladen Krstajić should have doubled Partizan's lead with 12 minutes remaining only to head Lomić's corner wide when unmarked, though in the end it did not matter as the Serbian outfit held on for their first clean sheet of the group stage.