FK Vardar 1-3 Legia Warszawa
Polish side Legia Warszawa are set for a lucrative clash with Catalan giants FC Barcelona in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League after a convincing defeat of F.Y.R. Macedonian outfit FK Varda at the City stadium.
The Polish side will be extremely confident ahead of the return clash in Warsaw next Wednesday thanks to goals from Cezary Kucharski and Moussa Yahya in the first half and a Stanko Svitlica strike after the interval.
Kucharski set the tone when he was on target after just three minutes and although Vardar threatened an equaliser when Dimitar Spasovski went close with a header. However the more solid play of the visitors soon assured a reassertion of dominance.
Moussa Yahya doubled the lead on 37 minutes when he converted a pass from Kucharski to cap a fine counter-attack. The midfielder was at the heart of the majority of the Polish team's dangerous moves and threatened goalkeeper Muarem Zekir with a raking strike on 61 minutes.
Vardar then had a good spell, digging deep to try and find a way into the clash. Their efforts were rewarded with a consolation strike from Dejan Ristovski. The goal boosted the hosts and they injected pace and imagination into their game, though Legia handled the pressure impressively and looked dangerous on the break.
It was only thanks to excellent goalkeeping from Zekir that Legia were denied in the final stages but he could do nothing to keep out the third when Svitlica slammed in an excellent pass from the irrepressible Kucharski.
"Legia deserved the win," Vardar coach Gjoko Hadzievski said. "The heaviest blow was the early goal which forced us on to the offensive. We pushed forward but our rivals were quick on the counter. They could have scored ther third earlier than they did and we must now show resistance in Warsaw."
Legia coach Dragomir Okuka concurred: “We were the better side and the result is realistic. We took our chances away from home and now we have a great chance of facing Barcelona in the third round."