FK Vardar secured their sixth Macedonian First League title – and their first in nine years – with three rounds to spare thanks to a 2-1 win at ten-man FK Sileks.
Vardar started the match in determined fashion knowing victory would be sufficient to be crowned champions following FK Metalurg Skopje's loss to FK Renova on Saturday. They duly took the lead through captain Filip Ivanovski midway through the first half. Sileks' Marko Nestorović equalised on 32 minutes, but the hosts were soon down to ten men following the dismissal of goalkeeper Daniel Božinovski. Vardar capitalised before half-time, Ivanovski scoring his second goal of the match, and his 23rd of the season.
The win lifted Vardar nine points clear of second-placed FK Shkëndija 79 with three games remaining. Thanks to their superior head-to-head record, the capital side are now sure to remain top even if they end level on points with last season's champions.
"This is a wonderful feeling," Ivanovski told UEFA.com. "We worked extra hard all year and we utterly deserve the title. We have been top of the table for a long time and strived to become champions as soon as possible. Today, we actually achieved this goal and I'm glad that we made our devoted army of fans happy."
Following their triumphs in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2002 and 2003, this sixth title strengthened Vardar's position as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's most successful club. They will duly be rewarded with a place in next season's UEFA Champions League qualifying process.
"We won the title, but there's one more goal ahead of us – to end the season with no defeats," added Ivanovski. "Only after that will we focus on our appearance in UEFA Champions League qualifying in July."
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