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Athletic conquer Partizan's Belgrade fortress

Partizan 0-2 Athletic
A Beñat Etxebarria-inspired Athletic became the first side to beat Partizan at home in Europe this term and moved joint-top of UEFA Europa League Group L.

Raúl García celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Partizan
Raúl García celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Partizan ©AFP/Getty Images
  • Raúl García opens scoring at Stadion FK Partizan
  • Beñat Etxebarria scores free-kick to cap outstanding display
  • Partizan suffer first defeat at home in Europe this season
  • Athletic move level with hosts at top of Group L
  • Teams meet again at Estadio de San Mamés on 5 November

A superb performance from Beñat Etxebarria helped Athletic become the first Spanish side to beat Partizan in Belgrade in European competition.

Partizan went into the match as Group L leaders with a 100% record, but it was Athletic who seized the early initiative, pressing their hosts high up the pitch, with Etxebarria pulling the strings in midfield. Xabier Etxeita had a powerful shot beaten away by Živko Živković in the 18th minute, while Aritz Aduriz spurned a good opportunity on the half-hour, heading over after good work from Óscar de Marcos down the visitors' right.

On 32 minutes, Athletic finally broke the deadlock through summer signing Raúl García. Etxebarria’s pinpoint pass picked out De Marcos once again, and his measured cross was nodded in expertly by the former Atlético Madrid attacking midfielder.

The Bilbao team carried on pushing forward and should have doubled their lead five minutes later when a slick cushioned pass from Aduriz sent Iñaki Williams through on goal, only for the Spanish Under-21 international to scuff his effort just pass the post.

Partizan were struggling to get into the game, with Iago Herrerín largely a spectator in the Athletic goal. On 55 minutes, Fabrício delivered their most threatening moment, flashing a long-range free-kick centimetres wide, but it proved a brief respite as Athletic continued to turn the screw.

A vicious, dipping strike from Etxebarria drew another fine stop from Živković on 57 minutes, but the 28-year-old was not to be denied. With five minutes to go, he extended the Athletic advantage, sending a perfect free-kick over the Partizan wall and into the top corner to seal the points.

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