Aberdeen holds off late onslaught by Shkendija

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Ward could not be beaten; photo: Scottish Sun SportWard could not be beaten; photo: Scottish Sun SportShkendija put up a brave fight over the two games against Aberdeen, but the Scottish team won on away goals to move on in the Europa League qualifications.

Tough luck for Shkendija. After completely outplaying Aberdeen in the 2nd half of the first leg, Shkendija opened the return leg with improved confidence. They began right where they left off as Shkendija opened on a more positive note.

Besart Ibraimi, who started this game in favor of Bojan Vrucina, was lively once again, causing problems for Aberdeen's defense. Shkendija created the first chance in the 7th minute when Ibraimi made a nice run on the left flank before setting up Armend Alimi whose shot went just wide of the right post. On the other end, Aberdeen tested Marko Jovanovski on a header following a corner kick, but Marko made a comfortable save.

The tempo of the game then slowed down after Shkendija's fast start. Aberdeen started to have more possession and they came close to breaking the deadlock in the 42nd minute. Jovanovski, though, was up to the challenge and managed to keep out the shot.

2nd half kick-off2nd half kick-off

In the 2nd half, the hosts created the first quality chance in the 54th minute when Adam Rooney utilized his pace to escape his marker, but his shot was right at Jovanovski. For Shkendija, Ibraimi had a go on a long range free kick in the 63rd minute, an effort that goalkeeper Danny Ward bobbled, but the Aberdeen defense cleared the danger on the rebound.

Aberdeen would then hit the post in the 78th minute on what would have been a spectacular goal. Peter Pawlett struck it well, but the crossbar saved Shkendija.

After the 80th minute, however, it was all Shkendija. They peppered the Aberdeen goal, but Ward would come up big to keep a clean sheet.

It started in the 82nd minute when Bazhe Todorovski was indecisive in squandering a chance. He had two great looks from close range, but you could tell he lacks the instincts of a scorer. He failed to even test the keeper.

Minutes later, super-sub Hristijan Kirovski received a clever pass to beat the offside trap, but his shot missed the target. He tried to place it perfectly instead of forcing the Aberdeen keeper to at least make a save. Shkendija continued to dominate at this stage, but their finishing was not up to par.

Shkendija was nearly forgiven for all those misses in stoppage time when Ward made a world class save to deny Ibraimi. Ward was completely covered by the traffic in front of him, but he still made a miracolous stop on an Ibraimi shot from the edge of the area. He showed great reflexes to save a ball that he saw late.

Aberdeen barely held on to the 0:0 draw, thus advancing to the next round due to the away goals rule. That comes after last week's 1:1 result in Skopje. Aberdeen's next opponent will be Rijeka, the new team of Stefan Ristovski.

Over the two games, Shkendija largely outplayed Aberdeen and created more chances, but the only thing that matters is the end result. Aberdeen, although looking less than impressive, managed to achieve its aim and progress in the Europa League qualifications.

With the elimination of Shkendija and Renova, Rabotnichki becomes the lone remaining Macedonian representative in the competition.

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