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Rabotnichki's run ends with 1:0 loss to Rubin

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Goran Siljanovski in a duel; photo: rsport.ruGoran Siljanovski in a duel; photo: rsport.ruRabotnichki's great journey in the Europa League came to an end on Thursday after Rubin celebrated a 1:0 victory in the return leg.

So close, yet so far. Rabotnichki's bid to become the first Macedonian club to reach the group stages of a major UEFA competition fell just short. They lost 1:2 on aggregate to Rubin, with the return leg seeing the Russian side prevail 1:0.

Milovan Petrovikj, suspended due to a red card, was the only key Rabotnichki player missing on Thursday. The other players who missed the first leg were back in action, but Rubin proved to be much more formidable at home.

Rubin looked rather underwhelming last week in Skopje, raising the confidence of the Rabotnichki players to make history, but the return leg was a different story. Rubin came out on the offensive and absolutely dominated, especially in the 1st half. The game could have been put away early if it wasn't for the heroics of goalkeeper Daniel Bozhinovski.

Daniel Bozhinovski kept Rabotnichki in the game; photo: rsport.ruDaniel Bozhinovski kept Rabotnichki in the game; photo: rsport.ru

In a five minute stretch from the 19th to 24th minute, Rubin had three great chances, but Bozhinovski managed to rescue Rabotnichki each time. He was on top of his game once again, but a goal seemed inevitable with the way Rubin was playing.

That goal would come in the 35th minute. After a good run on the right hand side, Rubin's #10 Carlos Eduardo would receive a good pass and fire a shot to the back of the net. The attempt came from exactly the penalty spot as Bozhinovski could not make another miraculous save.

Highlights of the game:

Rabotnichki could not get much going on the offensive end. The team enjoyed more possession in the 2nd half, with Rubin dropping back to protect their lead, but they could not create many quality chances. Rubin was organized, disciplined and did a solid job of containing the front trio of Bazhe Ilijoski, Marjan Altiparmakovski and Chuma Anene.

In the end, the 1:0 result stood which ensured that Rubin would win 2:1 on aggregate. Rabotnichki put up a great fight, but it wasn't enough this time. Still, Rabotnichki deserves appreciation and respect from football fans in Macedonia. What they accomplished with their limited budget is truly spectacular. The players and coaches showed great resilience throughout the competition, coming back from deficits in each round until this defeat in Kazan. Everyone at the club should have their head held high.

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