Teteks, Horizont Turnovo held to draws

The captains of Teteks and Pyunik before the gameBoth Macedonian clubs in action during today’s Europa League qualifications settled for draws, Teteks needing a late goal to tie Pyunik 1:1 while Turnovo was held 2:2 against Sūduva.

The matchup between Teteks and Pyunik featured a drastic contrast in age as the Macedonian side started seven players aged 29 and older, while Pyunik fielded a very young starting 11, mostly including players in their early 20’s.  Teteks controlled things for the majority of the game but had a difficult time creating many quality chances.

Veteran Bobi Bozhinovski came close near the end of the 1st half, but his left footed shot from just outside of the box was saved before going out for a corner.  Pyunik seemed content to rely on the counter attack and threatened just once in the opening half when a long range free kick was just pushed aside by the Teteks keeper.  The 2nd half was more of the same until Teteks lost concentration in the 81st minute and conceded a goal.  Teteks was livid, thinking the goal was offside, but replays showed that Dragan Nachevski kept Viulen Ayvazyan just onside to score the opening goal.  Teteks managed to equalize in the 90th minute through striker Genc Hyseni.  Following a corner kick, the ball managed to reach Hyseni whose effort reached the back of the net.  Teteks then had a great chance to score the winner in stoppage time, but Egzon Bejtulai’s left footed shot from close range was just saved by the outstretched legs of the Pyunik keeper.

In Lithuania, meanwhile, Horizont Turnovo played a 2:2 draw against Sūduva.  The home side opened as the better side, taking advantage of the relative inexperience of the Turnovo players in European competitions, and eventually took the lead through a goal from distance by Petar Bašić in the 23rd minute.  Turnovo did start to play better after the goal and scored an equalizer in the 30th minute through a great individual goal by Zoran Baldovaliev.  The veteran was surrounded by several markers but managed to create space before firing a shot to the bottom right corner.  Just before halftime, Dejan Blazhevski was brought down inside the area by the Sūduva keeper, leading the referee to point to the spot.  Blazhevski converted the penalty to hand Turnovo a 1:2 lead going into the break.

In the 2nd half, instead of Turnovo looking to build on their lead following a strong close to the 1st half, they seemed content with defending their narrow advantage which proved to be a mistake.  Most of the action was taking place on Turnovo’s half of the field and the equalizer came in the 85th minute.  After a bad clearance by a Turnovo defender, the ball fell perfectly to Nerijus Valskis whose shot from just outside of the area went under the diving keeper Stojan Dimovski to set the final score at 2:2.

Thus, with today’s results, the return legs that take place next Thursday will determine the two teams, from these matchups, that advance to the second qualifying round of the Europa League.  Turnovo did score an important two away goals, but both teams seemed evenly matched in quality so the return leg should be another close affair.  Meanwhile, Teteks must find a way to score at least one goal in Armenia after today’s result.  Teteks does have the edge in terms of age and experience, but getting a result on the road has always been difficult for Macedonian clubs in European competitions.

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