Club Brugge and Dnipro played out an entertaining goalless draw in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final at the Jan Breydel Stadium.
Michel Preud’homme’s Brugge are chasing an unprecedented treble as they sit at the top of their domestic league having already won the Belgian Cup against Anderlecht last month.
But they will have to retain their interest in continental glory with a positive result in Ukraine next week, against opponents who produced the sharper work this time out.
Dnipro enjoyed the better of the first half, although Jose Izquierdo should have given Brugge a 27th-minute lead.
Clear chances remained elusive after the break, with Dnipro unable to find the away goal that would have aided their quest to reach a first UEFA semi-final.
Brugge headed into the game unbeaten in a Europa League campaign that began against Brondby in July, but their visitors made a confident start.
Dnipro captain Ruslan Rotan spurned a good chance to put his team in front when lofted over from Valeriy Luchkevych’s 10th-minute cutback.
At the other end, Izquierdo skipped past a pair of challenges and saw his curling shot deflected behind.
Yevhen Konoplyanka was at the heart of much of Dnipro’s early impressive work and he drove at the home defence before unleashing a blocked shot that prompted a penalty box scramble.
The game’s first clear opening fell Brugge’s way as Obbi Oulare – preferred to Tom De Sutter in attack – dropped deep to thread a superb throughball into Izquierdo’s path. The winger broke free of the Dnipro defence but goalkeeper Denys Boyko stood firm to deny him.
Brugge midfielder Victor Vazquez sent a vicious, dipping long-range shot just over in the 38th minute before Luchkevych and Nikola Kalinic wasted headed chances for Dnipro to make their superiority count.
Preud’homme’s men began the second period with greater intent and Davy de Fauw – who endured a torrid first half defensively – was left unattended to head a 47th-minute corner wide.
Dnipro showed their prowess on the break a few moments later but Kalinic could not make contact with Rotan’s cross-shot.
A flurry of yellow cards either side of the hour hindered the game’s flow but both teams pressed gamely for the breakthrough – making light of their respective pre-match injury struggles.
Rotan came close to finding it once more, with Brugge’s Mat Ryan grasping his 77th-minute header at the second attempt.
That chance was crafted by another brilliant run from Konoplyanka and the playmaker was twice denied the goal his efforts deserved by Ryan in the closing minutes as an increasingly ragged Brugge held on.
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