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Player reactions after first round of Europa League

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Rabotnichki will have at least 2 more EL games; photo: FC FloraRabotnichki will have at least 2 more EL games; photo: FC FloraShkendija and Renova were eliminated, but Rabotnichki managed to overcome the first leg defeat and advance to the next qualifying round. Below are some reactions from players on the three Macedonian clubs.

Renova was the first team to finish its European journey. After the 0:1 home defeat last week, Renova ran into much bigger problems in Moldova by losing 4:1. Dacia, especially dominant in the 2nd half, cruised on their way to a 5:1 aggregate victory.

Central defender Nenad Mishkovski shared his thoughts with us: "We were an equal opponent during the first half, sometimes even better. We shouldn't look for excuses, but we got a little tired in the second half and I think the key factor for our big defeat was the fact that the Dacia players were in better condition and had a deeper bench. Those players that came on as substitutes were the ones that made the difference."

Nenad and his teammates after the first match; photo: KF RenovaNenad and his teammates after the first match; photo: KF Renova

The scorer of the lone goal for Renova, Izair Emini, had a different view: "We lost to a better team, a team that beat us twice. If you ask me, they deserved to go to the next round. We didn't lose because they were that much better; rather we lost because in games like these teams must commit fewer errors and we failed to do that. Instead, we made too many mistakes and Dacia seized the occasion to punish us in every way they wanted. We did play a good road game, but we let in cheap goals and that simply devastated our psyche, making us powerless."

Emini at the first leg game; photo: KF RenovaEmini at the first leg game; photo: KF Renova

Next was Rabotnichki who had to deal with Estonian side Flora. Just like Renova, Rabotnichki also needed to overcome a 0:1 deficit from the first leg, and they did just that with a solid display. The Club Hero dominated throughout the whole game, scoring two goals to achieve its aim, although the score could have been much worse for Flora. By advancing, Rabotnichki will face another Baltic team in the next round, Jelgava from Latvia. Jelgava eliminated Litex to reach this point. Chuma Anene and Marjan Altiparmakovski, the players who scored the goals for Rabotnichki in their win over Flora, told us the following:

Anene: "Well, I really feel that they were two different matches. Like night and day. When we played in Estonia we simply didn't manage to play our game. I think it was mostly because of our performance that we lost that match. Because even in that fixture you could see we were the better side. This match was definitely different in every way. We kept the ball, we had patience and we created a lot of chances, corners and managed to score two goals. We were definitely terrorizing our opponents. It was a shame they only came to defend the game from the first minute, but that gave us the opportunity to play and be creative, which is our strength. The next match will definitely be a tough one. Jelgava beat a big side like Litex Lovech, so they have their qualities, but I believe that we have a big chance to proceed to the next round. We definitely don't see limits and we are always going for the win."

Anene was tough to handle for the Flora players; photo. sportmedia.mkAnene was tough to handle for the Flora players; photo. sportmedia.mk

Altiparmakovski: "I think that these two games were totally different. We were more cautious in Tallinn as it was our first game and on the road. Still, even in Estonia we knew that we were the better side and therefore that defeat really hurt. Our motivation for the return leg was high, so we came into the game with much anticipation. We showed our true face so I think that this team has a lot more to show in Europe. We don't really know much about our next opponent, but I think they play a similar style as Flora and, of course, they are a good team that must not be underestimated because they eliminated Litex."

Marjan had a great chance in the first leg; photo: Janek EslonMarjan had a great chance in the first leg; photo: Janek Eslon

Shkendija was very unlucky in the draw as they had to face a tough opponent, Scottish side Aberdeen. Despite that, in both games, Shkendija looked more dangerous and created the best chances. In the end, Aberdeen's experience and that one away goal proved to be the difference.

Defender Ardian Cuculi could not hide his disappointment by the elimination: "In these two games we proved that we can take on strong opponents. I am pretty sure we can conclude that, and I regret that we failed to advance to the next round. Too bad, we gave our best, but luck wasn't on our side. This must be a boost for us to keep going, to improve our game and to achieve better results. We said farewell to the Europa League without losing a game and that is regrettable. Too bad."

Cuculi making a sliding tackle in Scotland; photo: Aberdeen FCCuculi making a sliding tackle in Scotland; photo: Aberdeen FC

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