A moment during the game; photo: mkd.mk

UEFA CL: BATE Borisov – Vardar 3:2

A moment during the game; photo: mkd.mkVardar overcame a 0:1 halftime deficit to eventually take a 2:1 lead after 62 minutes, but BATE Borisov managed to score two goals in stoppage time of the 90th minute to collect a 3:2 victory in the first leg.

The 1st half did not feature many chances as both teams attempted to get a feel for one another.  In addition, neither team wanted to make a costly error early on.  Vardar looked organized as a team and although BATE had more of the possession, there were few opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.  The first big chance of the match came in the 24th minute when Vardar’s goalkeeper Kostadin Zahov was caught out of position, leading to a chip attempt towards goal by Aleksandr Pavlov, but Vardar left back Abraham Alechenwu made a great clearance just as the ball was getting ready to cross the line.  The goalless deadlock was eventually broken in the 41st minute when Dmitri Mozolevski scored on an easy tap in from close range after a cross from the left hand side.

Neither side made any changes at the start of the 2nd half as the game took on added intensity.  BATE actually had several chances early in the half to make it 2:0 but Zahov first denied Mozolevski in the 49th minute, while Aleksandr Volodko skied a shot way over the goal from a good position in the 52nd minute.  With BATE looking increasingly likely to extend its 1:0 lead, it was actually Vardar who stunned the home crowd with the equalizing goal in the 54th minute.  Dragan Gjorgiev received a long cross on the left hand side and then sent a great cross to Jovan Kostovski who scored an easy goal from close range.  Vardar gained in confidence after the goal and managed to take a 1:2 lead in the 62nd minute when Ostoja Stjepanovikj reached the back of the net with a precise shot past the opposing keeper.

The game soon ratcheted up in intensity as BATE looked to reverse the scoreline.  Volodko had a good chance in the 78th minute but his shot went just wide of the left goal post.  On the other end, a minute later, Stjepanovikj nearly made it 1:3 for Vardar after a great run but his effort from the edge of the area was straight at the BATE keeper.  The 90th minuted rolled up with Vardar still clinging to a 1:2 lead.  However, he referee added four minutes of stoppage time, and that’s where Vardar conceded two goals for a demoralizing 3:2 loss.  Vitali Rodionov scored both goals for BATE in stoppage time, with the second coming on an effort inside the area following a corner kick.

Vardar will be disappointed with the result by conceding two late goals in stoppage time, but nothing is lost for the return leg.  The Macedonian side scored two important away goals and will receive tremendous support in the return leg next Wednesday.  It will be the first game in the renovated stadium and the atmosphere should be electric in hopefully propelling Vardar to reach the next round.  Vardar will advance with a score such as 1:0 or 2:1 in the return leg due to the away goals rule, but they will undoubtedly be shooting themselves in the foot for this squandered outcome in the first leg. 

Gorodskoi Stadion in Borisov, Belarus
BATE Borisov – Vardar 3:2
: Olivier Thual (FRA)
BATE Borisov: Gorbunov, Likhtarovich (69′ Rudik), Volodko, Mozolevski, Radkov, Pavlov (69′ Kontsevoi), Bordachev, Rodionov, Simić, Olekhnovich, Polyakov.
Vardar: Zahov, Alechenwu, Tanevski,
Ilievski, Vajs, Ranđelović (86′ Manevski), Stojaković (83′ Guobadia), Gjorgiev (59′ Petrov), Stjepanovikj, Kostovski, Temelkov.
Goalscorers: Mozolevski 41′, Rodionov 90+2, 90+4 (B) – Kostovski 54′, Stjepanovikj 62′ (V)
Yellow cards: Simi
ć, Kontsevoi (B) – Vajs, Stjepanovikj, Petrov (V)

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