Another failure for Shkendija as the Luxembourgian side celebrated a win in Skopje.
photo by Filip Zdraveski: moment of the match
After suffering a shocking elimination in the first qualifying round of the Champions League by Estonian side Kalju, thanks to UEFA’s new format introduced this season, Shkendija continues to compete in the Europa League. There is a special path for the teams coming from the Champions League where the eliminated teams face each other. That’s how Shkendija ended up playing against Dudelange, the champion of Luxembourg but in the Europa League. Their today’s opponent was eliminated from the Champions League by Maltese side Valletta on away goals rule. It’s not their first visit to Macedonia as back in the summer of 2006 they played against then champions Rabotnichki and after a lone goal defeat at home later played a goalless draw in Skopje to get eliminated.
Coach Kjatip Osmani made few changes after being disappointed by the performance in the Kalju matches. First choice keeper Kostadin Zahov got benched with reserve Bekim Redjepi getting a chance. Newest signing Juan Felipe eventually made the starting eleven as well as winger Stênio Júnior, a choice that forced out of form striker Besart Ibraimi to sit on the bench.
Early in the 7th minute the dead lock was broke from the spot. Marjan Radeski stole the ball in the visiting box and got brought down by Mickael Garos, while Agim Ibraimi converted the penalty. Third goal for Shkendija this European summer and third from the spot.
The hosts dominated the entire first half never allowing the visitors a serious scoring opportunity. Shkendija even had couple of chances to double the lead, but never happened. First Radeski reacted badly on a lob attempt, while later Junior’s nice shot went inches wide.
Twenty minutes after the break and the match turned incredibly. Adel Bettaieb had just entered the field and seconds later he equalized. Keeper Redjepi wanted the clear a ball, but realized that is out of the box, moved his hand away and the ball passed him allowing Bettaieb to score on empty net.
Just couple of minutes later and Redjepi once again made a crucial error that lead to a second goal for Dudelange. First he got lobbed inside the box and seconds later made a penalty foul. Sinani converted it for a 1:2 lead.
The red and black played tried to equalize the score but failed to beat visiting keeper Kips.
Shkendija dominated today, played much better than the Kalju games, but at the end got defeated after literally giving away two goals. Also, their front line totally failed once again. Shkendija still hasn’t scored from active play, third game in a row!
National Arena Toshe Proeski in Skopje
Shkendija – Dudelange 1:2 (1:0)
Goals: 7′ (pen) Agim Ibraimi – 64′ Adel Bettaieb, 68′ (pen) Daniel Sinani
Shkendija: 40. Redjepi; 3. Mici (76′ 28. Imeri), 6. Musliu, 4. Bejtulai, 16. Murati; 5. Alimi (C), 90. Husmani (60′ 8. Totre), 70. Juan Felipe; 18. Stênio Júnior, 14. Radeski (62′ 7. B. Ibraimi), 10. A. Ibraimi.
Dudelange: 30. Kips; 24. Kirch, 15. Delgado, 5. Schnell (C); 10. Stolz, 8. Pokar, 77. Bougrine (46′ 22. Bernier), 20. Garos (80′ 28. Morren), 34. Bouchouari; 9. Sinani, 11. Barbosa (64′ 27. Bettaieb).
Yellow cards: Radeski, Mici, Redjepi (Sh), Bouchouari, Kips, Pokar (D)
Red cards: /
Referee: Tore Hansen
Assistants: Kim Thomas Haglund & Magnus Lundberg
Fourth official: Tom Harald Hagen
The return leg is scheduled for next next Tuesday at the same hours but in Luxembourg. What is interesting is that if Shkendija advances will face the losing side of the Champions League matchup between Celtic and Kalju. Yes, they will most probably end up playing the same Estonian side once again. But first Shkendija must win on the road.