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Rabotnichki inspires to eliminate Trabzonspor

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Rabotnichki celebrates; photo: tunahaber.comRabotnichki celebrates; photo: tunahaber.comWhat a performance by Rabotnichki! Despite being dealt several obstacles, Rabotnichki overcame playing with 10 men for nearly an hour to eliminate Trabzonspor.

Rabotnichki has reached the play-off round in the Europa League qualifications. It was not easy, but the team showed the poise and character to send Trabzonspor packing. Rabotnichki proved to be the definition of TEAM and got contributions from numerous players to keep alive its journey in the competition.

From the first leg last Thursday, Rabotnichki made one lineup change by taking out a striker, Marjan Altiparmakovski, and inserting a defensive midfielder in his place, Dusko Trajchevski. Still, despite that move, Rabotnichki did not park the bus and initially began the game brightly.

Rabotnichki's startersRabotnichki's starters

The first chance fell in the 11th minute when Chuma Anene was set up nicely, but he mishit his shot and the effort went narrowly wide. Rabotnichki began with a solid opening 15 minutes, but then Trabzonspor started to show more attacking intent in front of their noisy supporters.

Rabotnichki kept on frustrating the Turkish side with their organized defense and the solid form of goalkeeper Daniel Bozhinovski. Bozhinovski was on top of his game game and frankly he needed to be. Not just making saves, but also intercepting crosses and giving his teammates extra confidence. That was fully on display today.

Trabzonspor would go on to control the final 15 minutes of the 1st half, but Bozhinovski made a good save in the 33rd minute, while Oscar Cardozo sent a header just wide in the 45th minute.

The breakthrough would come in the 55th minute when Okay Yokuşlu sent a powerful diving header to the back of the net. It came after a good cross into the box. It simply had too much power to be stopped by Bozhinovski.

Video of the goal by Okay:

Rabotnichki would receive more bad news in the 65th minute when Dushko Trajchevski received his second yellow card of the game. He was involved in a heavy and ugly looking collision, but the referee showed no leniency. Both players were down for some time, but after they got up Trajchevski was shown his marching orders.

Captain Bazhe Ilijoski was not happy with the ruling and had a word with the referee who in turn gave him a yellow card for arguing the decision. At this time, being on the road and already trailing 1:0, Rabotnichki's odds did not look good. However, the club showed the poise and moxy to keep on battling, despite the numerical disadvantage.

In the 25 minutes of regulation time that Rabotnichki played with 10 men, the entire team came up big to prevent another goal for Trabzonspor. In particular, there were three big opportunities in the 67th, 75th and 83rd minute that Bozhinovski was able to save. Bozhinovski, along with the 9 other men, buckled down and continued to be tough to break down.

Then, in a blurry, Rabotnichki nearly scored the deciding goal in the 90th minute. First, substitute Ivan Mitrov used his fresh legs to dribble past several opponents, but his shot was well saved. Then, on the subsequent goal kick, Onur hit it badly which almost led to a spectacular goal by Marjan Altiparmakovski. Marjan attempted a volley that Onur barely managed to reach before he was saved by the top of the crossbar. Some Rabotnichki players thought the ball crossed the line, but the referee waved play on.

It was 1:0 after 90 minutes, so the match went into extra time. Rabotnichki had made all three of its substitutions by then, including taking out Bazhe Ilijoski and Chuma Anene. Again, the odds didn't look good, but again Rabotnichki proved to be a resilient bunch and kept on battling.

In extra time, the first 15 minute session was dull, with one exception. In the 104th minute, Trabzonspor struck the post on a powerful shot.

Video of the goal by Markoski:

The second 15 minute period would see Rabotnichki score the decisive goal in the 112th minute. Milan Ilievski attempted a long pass, leading the Trabzonspor keeper to come out from his goal, but the ball reached Kire Markoski first. So, Kire got his head on the ball and the end result was a goal. Rabotnichki went into delirium with coaches and players running to hug each other.

In the end, Rabotnichki won 2:1 on aggregate to reach the play-off round of the Europa League qualifications. This is the second time Rabotnichki has reached that portion of the competition in the past five years (the other coming back in the 2011-12 calendar year).

Rabotnicki will learn its opponent for the play-off round tomorrow, on Friday, when UEFA holds the draw at their headquarters in Switzerland.

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