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Rabotnichki salvages draw after red card

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Ristevski scored on this header; photo: RabotnichkiRistevski scored on this header; photo: RabotnichkiRabotnichki continued to showcase great fighting spirit as they scored a late equalizer, while playing with 10 men, to salvage a 1:1 draw against Rubin Kazan.

Rabotnichki had many problems going into the first leg of its Europa League play-off against Rubin. First, two key players in Bazhe Ilijoski and Dushko Trajchevski were suspended due to accumulation of yellow cards, while Suad Sahiti and Ivan Mitrov were sidelined with injuries. Those are four vital pieces that manager Igor Angelovski could not count on. Sahiti suffered an injury at Wednesday's training. Mitrov, meanwhile, was supposed to start with the other absences, but he too sustained an injury.

The non-availability of those four players devastated the depth of Rabotnichki. The team is not very deep to begin with, but those suspensions/injuries made it even more difficult. Rabotnichki's bench in the first leg was less than impressive. It only had 6 players, of which two were goalkeepers while the other four were all youngsters under 20 years old.

Despite those facts, Rabotnichki never looked inferior to Rubin, a staple in the Russian top division. Rabotnichki played with more aggression in the opening half, but seemed to lack the quality in the final third. Rubin, on the other hand, showed very little until the 54th minute when Milovan Petrovikj was shown a red card by the referee (two yellow cards).

Petrovikj is the hardest working player on Rabotnichki who covers the most ground, so his dismissal was devastating for the hosts.

Milovan is shown a red card; photo: TelegrafMilovan is shown a red card; photo: Telegraf

Rubin would capitalize on the man advantage in the 68th minute when Gökdeniz Karadeniz scored from close range. After some nice passing, Karadeniz received a cross and sent a low header to the back of the net. Karadeniz suffered an injury on that play and had to be substituted moments later.

At that stage, being down one man and losing 0:1, things did not look good for Rabotnichki. However, the club did not give up and was rewarded with a goal in the 85th minute. Rabotnichki won a corner kick on that instance, and the service provided from that corner led to the late equalizer.

Action from the game; photo: Filip ZdraveskiAction from the game; photo: Filip Zdraveski

Kire Ristevski was credited with the goal on an easy close range header. He scored on a rebound opportunity after the Rubin keeper saved the initial header following that corner kick. That goal rejuvenated the crowd to make some noise, and Rabotnichki was able to hang on to the 1:1 result.

1:1 is not a great result at home since Rubin grabbed an all-important away goal, but it's certainly better than 0:1. Frankly, Rubin did not look very impressive 11 on 11, so Rabotnichki should have a chance in the return leg next week. With the return of Bazhe Ilijoski, Dushko Trajchevski and potentially Suad Sahiti, Rabotnicki will be strengthened significantly, but the loss of Petrovikj is a big miss.

Highlights of the game:

Rabotnichki should be proud of its effort and response after the red card. With a little more discipline and a bit of luck in the return leg, they could become the first Macedonian club to reach the group stages of a major UEFA competition.

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