Portadown celebrates, photo:bbc.co.uk

UEFA EL: Portadown – Shkendija 2:1

Portadown celebrates, photo:bbc.co.ukShkendija is out of the Europa League after just one round, as they exited the competition with a 2:1 loss away to Portadown today.

After the 0:0 draw in Macedonia during the first leg, Shkendija needed a win or a draw with goals, but failed to achieve either option.  Instead, they lost 2:1 with the game winning goal being conceded in the 81st minute from a spectacular free-kick.

Shkendija got off to a great start with a quick goal in the 4th minute when defender Ardian Cuculi scored following a well taken corner kick by captain Nefi Mustafi.  Nine minutes later, striker Muzafer Ejupi could have doubled the lead, but Miskelly saved his effort.  Portadown took the initiative from that point but the score remained 1:0 for Shkendija at the break.

Portadown continued to control the game into the 2nd half and scored the equalizer in the 58th minute when Richard Lecky headed home a cross from Darren Murray.  Despite the goal, 1:1 would have been enough for Shkendija to advance to the next round due to away goals but Ross Redman from Portadown had other thoughts and netted the game winner with a long distance free kick.  The home side held on to the lead and advanced to the second round of the UEFA Europa League qualifying where they will face Croatian side Slaven Belupo.

After Renova was eliminated by Glentoran last year, another semi-professional side from Northern Ireland managed to eliminate a Macedonian team in the first qualifying round of the competition.  Instead of advancing to the second round and compiling coefficient points for the Macedonian league, Shkendija exits the competition early with a 1:2 aggregate loss over the two legs.

Shamrock Park in Portadown, Northern Ireland
Portadown – Shkendija 2:1
Michalen Johansen (DEN)
Portadown: Miskelly, Mackle (84′ O’Hara), Redman, Breen, Murray, Braniff, Mcneill, Casement, Lecky, Gartland, McCafferty
Shkendija: Velii, Neziri, Cuculi, Mishkovski, Berisha (84′ Hasan), Mustafi, Demiri, Selmani, Aliji (80′ Redjepi), Taipi, Ejupi (61′ Emini).
Goalscorers: Lecky 58′, Redman 80′ (P) – Cuculi 4′ (S)
Yellow cards: Lecky (P) – Mishkovski, Cuculi (S)

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