Shkupi embarked on their first European adventure last night in front of a sell out crowd in Glasgow as they took on Rangers.
photo by Blake Porter: view of the game from a far back place at the main stand
The match started relatively slowly with Rangers passing around the pitch trying to build up attacks, but Shkupi put on a splendid defensive display to deny them on many attempts. In contrast to the obvious gap in stats, the first dangerous attack came from Shkupi when Blagoja Ljamchevski blasted a thunderous from just outside the box which was only stopped by the crossbar. The rest of the first half was pure Rangers dominance, however, but Shkupi stood firm in defense to make numerous crucial interceptions.
However, the deadlock was broken in the 23rd minute when Jamie Murphy scored a spectacularly placed shot from an angle which Zendeli stood no real chance of saving. The rest of the first half continued as normal with great Shkupi defending and constant pressure from Rangers. The Glasgow club came very close to making it 2-0 when Josh Windass made a dangerous header after connecting with a header from Nikola Katić, but Zendeli made arguably the save of the game to deny him. Shortly after, the Shkupi captain had to make another tremendous save when Jon Flanagan whipped in a cross that looked almost destined to accidentally end up in the back of the net.
The second half was a much more tedious affair as both teams scrambled around with possession and both teams making very good interceptions. Throughout the second half, the Rangers fans roared numerous times for what they believed to be clear penalties, however the German referee denied their calls until the 92nd minute when Jamie Murphy went down in the box by Amir Bilali to win a penalty for his team. James Tavernier stepped up to the mark in his first game under new boss Steven Gerrard and smashed it into the back of the net to end the match 2:0.
Ibrox stadium in Glasgow
Rangers – Shkupi 2:0 (1:0)
Goals: 23′ Jamie Murphy, 90’+2 (pen) James Tavernier
Rangers: 1. McGregor; 15. Flanagan, 19. Katić, 6. Goldson, 2. Tavernier (C); 37. Arfield (67′ 10. Ejaria), 17. McCrorie, 21. Candeias (56′ 8. Jack); 7. Murphy, 20. Morelos, 11. Windass (79′ 40. Middleton).
Shkupi: 1. Zendeli (C); 15. Basilio (90’+2 16. Krivanjeva), 5. Bajrami (46′ 4. Bilali), 3. Tipurić, 88. Adem; 14. Broja, 19. Vujčić; 7. Ljamnchevski (60′ 8. Shabani), 11. Muarem, 23. Stojkoski; 18. Ilijoski.
Yellow cards: Candeias, Morelos (R), Ilijoski, Muarem, Basilio, Adem (Sh)
Red cards: /
Referee: Christian Dingert
Assistants: Mike Pickel & Tobias Christ
Fourth official: Harm Osmers