F91 Dudelange 1-1 FK Vardar
F.Y.R. Macedonian champions FK Vardar hold all the aces after they battled back to draw 1-1 at F91 Dudelange in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League first qualifying round tie.
As expected, Vardar seized the initiative early on and could have taken the lead after just eight minutes when Braga Aguinaldo de Jesus burst through on the right and attempted a clever chip over the onrushing Albert Polo. It was just inches wide of the target.
Gryzszynski goes close
Luxembourg title holders Dudelange generally played with ten men behind the ball and their rare attempts on goal were usually restricted to long crosses for Thomas Gryzszynski, who almost edged an unlikely lead when he shook off three defenders to launch a stinging drive over the crossbar.
Vardar were physically and technically superior and almost capitalised on their dominance when Dejan Ristovski found acres of space in the right-hand side of the penalty box only to see his close-range effort tipped over by the outstanding Polo.
Coach Gjokica Hadzievski surely spoke harsh words at half-time as Vardar increased the pressure after the break, although they failed to create any clear-cut opportunities against a determined Dudelange defence. The hosts then grabbed a surprise lead nine to leave Vardar reeling. Stephane Martine burst through on the right and from his cross Frank Deville and goalkeeper Muarem Zekir collided with the loose ball landing at the feet of Sebastien Remy, who tapped the ball into the net with ease.
Vardar strike back
More woe was to come for the visitors as Zekir, injured during an unfortunate clash, had to be replaced by reserve goalkeeper Vlatko Gosev. However, just as the tide was turning against them, Vardar re-asserted their dominance through a master stroke from coach Hadzievski. The Macedonian boss sent on Slavco Georgievski in place of Braga Aguinaldo de Jesus, and, with his first two touches, Georgievski completed a one-two with Srdan Zaharievski and then finished to restore parity and give Vardar a crucial away goal ahead of next week's return.