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Shkendija nets late goal to salvage 1:1 draw

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Kirovski scored on this header; photo: bbci.co.ukKirovski scored on this header; photo: bbci.co.ukA third Macedonian representative in the Europa League seemed headed for a 1:0 loss, but Shkendija grabbed a late equalizer to draw 1:1 against Aberdeen.

After two disappointing displays by Renova and Rabotnichki, Shkendija represented the Macedonian league much better. They never looked inferior against a quality team from a respectable league in Scotland. The 1st half was closely contested by both teams, but Shkendija controlled things in the 2nd half. Therefore, Shkendija will rue this result since the game was right there for the taking.

The 1st half was evenly matched as neither club was able to create much in attack. Aberdeen attempted more shots, including one that hit the side netting. Shkendija, meanwhile, didn't test the keeper until the 30th minute when Victor Juffo's shot was easily saved by Danny Ward.

After the break, however, Shkendija looked much more dangerous than their opponent. One big factor in that was definitely the introduction of Besart Ibraimi who came on for Bojan Vrucina. Ibraimi was very lively, creating all sorts of havoc for Aberdeen. He actually began with a howler when he slipped to squander a good chance that was created by Stenio Junior. But, after that, Ibraimi proved to be the main threat. He had one powerful free kick saved by Ward, and then sent a header that went just wide of the right goal post. He was combining well with his teammates and was a much bigger threat than the ineffective Bojan Vrucina.

The goal by Aberdeen:

Most of the action was taking place on the Aberdeen side of the pitch as Shkendija's players appeared to be in better shape. Aberdeen looked exhausted and showed very little initiative.

Despite that dominance by Shkendija, Aberdeen would take the lead in the 79th minute. It was a tad harsh when you consider the play on the field, but Niall McGinn used his chance to fire a shot past Marko Jovanovski.

The goal by Kirovski:

Shkendija would grab a deserving equalizer in the 85th minute when substitute Hristijan Kirovski sent a precise header to the back of the net. That came after a cross from the right hand side by Blagoja Todorovski. The home side then pushed forward, looking for one more goal, but it was actually Aberdeen who nearly scored a winner in stoppage time. Jonny Hayes shot right at Jovanovski to keep the score at 1:1.

Aberdeen got the all important away goal, but Shkendija should grow in confidence after today's performance. Obviously, it will be much tougher on the road in the return leg next week, but Shkendija gave itself a chance and a repeat performance could see them upset Aberdeen.

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