Moment of the match between Shkendija and Portadown, captured fom ejashiko.com

UEFA EL: Shkendija – Portadown 0:0

Moment of the match between Shkendija and Portadown, captured fom ejashiko.comShkendija opened the European campaign with a goalless draw against Portadown.

Shkendija began the Europa League season with the first qualifying round of against Portadown from Northern Ireland.  In a match where the visitors focused on not conceding a goal, they accomplished that feat in a goalless draw.

The first chance of the game fell to Portadown in the 5th minute.  McNeill attempted a long distance shot, but Nikov parried the shot for a corner.  Three minutes later, Ejupi was just a tad late in reacting to Elmazovski’s cross from the right hand side.  From then on, Shkendija took complete control and had many chances, but did not capitalize on any of them.

In the 16th minute, Emini shot from around 15 meters but it west just over the goal.  A minute later, Mustafi tried to surprise the Portadown keeper with a free kick from more than 30 meters, but the ball ended just wide of the goal.  Emini tried once again from a similar situation, but was off target.  At this point, Portadown was only focusing on defense but Shkendija had a difficult time breaking down their defense, so chances came on long distance shorts.  In the 26th minute, Taipi had a great opportunity.  He received a ball in the box, fell down as he unleashed a shot that was deflected off of a Portadown defender and ended just a whisper besides the goal.  In the next minute, the visitors created their best chance.  A cross was sent from the left hand side, Nikov missed the ball but Murray was just a second late in shooting the ball into an empty net.  Before half time, Shkendija had another two good opportunities.  First, Elmazovski sent a strong shot from outside of the the box that Miskelly first caught but then dropped it and it resulted in a corner.  Then, Mustafi took the corner, but Ejupi’s header was saved by Miskelly.

The second half was not much different.  It was obvious that the team from Northern Ireland came to Macedonia with one goal in mind – not to concede.  For the majority of the time, each of their 11 players were on their own half and never managed to be dangerous on the other end of the pitch.

Ejupi was just offside in the 59th minute in a situation which could have been dangerous.  In the next three minutes, Shkendija had 3 good opportunities.  First, Aliji, who just entered the match minutes earlier, sent a shot just wide, then Ejupi’s shot from a good position was blocked, while Taipi also had an effort but to no avail as the match stayed 0:0.  Taipi was one of the more active players for Shkendija in the second half, and also had another opportunity in the 68th minute but once again came up short.  In the 71st minute, we could have easily seen an own goal.  Portadown’s defense seemed confused but they somehow managed to clear the ball for a corner after several bounces inside the box.  The best chance in the second half, however, came in the 78th minute when substitute Ertan Hasan squandered a great opportunity.  Taipi took a free kick into the box, Hasan managed to get his head on the ball but Miskelly saved the effort to save Portadown.

The return leg will be played in Northern Ireland in 7 days.  The matchup is still not lost, but Shkendija will have to be more decisive in front of goal in the away match.  In this game, they mostly attempted long distance shots and despite being in complete control, they failed to score.  Portadown did their job in Macedonia, and will now fancy their chances at home.  If Shkendija scores at least one goal in the away match, they will have an advantage thanks to the away goals rule.

Milano Arena in Kumanovo
Shkendija – Portadown 0:0
Referee
: Eitan Shemeulevitch (Israel)
Shkendija: Nikov, Cuculi, Berisha, Demiri, Neziri, Taipi, Selmani, Mustafi, Elmazovski (56′ Aliji), Emini (71′ Hasan), Ejupi (85′ Redjepi).
Portadown: Miskelly, Redman, Breen, Casement, Gartland, Mackle, Mcneill, McCafferty, Murray, Braniff, Tomelty (30′ Lecky).
Yellow cards: Emini (S); Redman (P)

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