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Posted on 2 November 2006  - 12:00

Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane scored the goals that resulted in a further three points being added to our UEFA Cup Group B account at the expense of Club Brugge at the Lane.

Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane scored the goals that resulted in a further three points being added to our UEFA Cup Group B account at the expense of Club Brugge at the Lane.

The Bulgarian contributed two goals and the Republic of Ireland man one to the 3-1 scoreline - one that was in no way flattering and totally deserved. However, it was Brugge who took the lead with a fine early strike, but the response was quick and eventually emphatic.

There was just the one change from Saturday with Didier Zokora returning to the side in place of Tom Huddlestone, and it was Brugge who nearly enjoyed a goal start after just two minutes when Gaetan Englebert snapped in a shot that Paul Robinson looked to have covered with something to spare.

The problem was that the ball clipped the knee of Michael Dawson and Robbo was forced to change direction and tip around the post in what ended up being a fine save. There followed a big penalty shout at the other end when a cross from Benoit Assou-Ekotto pinged up and struck the arm of Birger Maertens, but the Spanish referee Mr Mallenco was having none of it.

On 13 minutes there was a spectacular moment, but sadly one that resulted in the ball being picked up out of our net. Englebert slipped the ball into the feet of Salou Ibrahim just outside the area and from a central position and the striker spun on the spot and dispatched a rising shot past Robinson's left hand and it was 1-0 to the Belgians.

Retribution by way of an equaliser was swift - just three minutes later. A Jermaine Jenas free-kick saw the ball chipped into the area and landing on the head of Pascal Chimbonda. The full-back nodded in the direction of the lurking Berbatov who executed a magnificent smash into the bottom right hand corner of the net. The Lane erupted and there was quite an atmosphere building in the ground, where the away section was also packed to the rafters.

It was a lively first half played with a real zip by both teams, but it should have been advantage whites just before the half hour mark when a Aaron Lennon raid down the left resulted in Berbatov receiving the ball inside the area. The set-up was not quite right for a shy at goal so the Bulgarian helped play onto Hossam Ghaly to apply the finishing touch. His touch was heavy and his effort high.

Ten minutes before the break it was Jenas who should have got his name on the scoresheet after Berbatov rolled the ball back in his path following a Dawson dink into the danger area. JJ went for precision but his shot grazed the outside of the post.

Zokora picked out the run of Keane early in the second half and the striker found himself through on Stijn Stijnen, but the goalkeeper made himself big at his near post and managed to deflect the shot wide. Lennon then had the chance to stretch Stijnen again with a snapshot when the ball ran loose, but Maertens got in the way before the visiting keeper was tested. He was beaten not long after by a Dawson header and this time it was defenders to the rescue on the line.

It was going pretty much one way, but Lennon was wasteful when Jenas was the supply line and the speedy winger had better options that taking a shot on himself from the left of the area - as Keane was quick to point out.

Just after the hour - 62 minutes - there was a stunning passage of football with a most clinical finish. Berbatov hooked a pacy clearance into the path of the advancing Keane - switching play from left to right in the process - and Robbie ran onto the pass to the far side of the area before, cool as you like, firing the ball across Stijnen and into the bet. Brilliant.

Keane not giving up on a lost cause presented Lennon with another opening moments later, but a touch or two too many proved costly and his attempted chip for the corner flew too high.

The advantage in the game was completely deserved and there was consistent flashes of some inventive and imaginative football. A more accurate final pass or finish on many occasions would surely have seen a considerable scoreline built up.

Jenas was a figure of constant motion, breaking from midfield to attack and then tracking back, Lennon's speed was the threat down the left, while Berbatov and Keane showed signs of developing an understanding.

On 72 minutes one half of that partnership was milking the applause again, Berbatov heading downwards and decisively past Stijnen to make it three from Ghaly's cross. It was an expert finish and clearly something he has done before many a time.

Berbatov left the field to a huge ovation , his work was done for the night and, ten minutes later, so was the team's and qualification for the round of 32 looks extremely likely now at the half way point in the group stage.