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F.Y.R. Macedonian title-holders FK Vardar secured arguably their greatest result as they beat PFC CKSA Moskva 2-1 in Russia in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie.
CSKA were in control for long periods of the match, but Vardar's counterattacking proved irresistible and the visitors were on the verge of taking a two-goal lead back to Skopje until a last-minute consolation for last season's Russian runners-up and current runaway leaders.
The Vardar breakthrough came on 55 minutes when Vlatko Grozdanovski stole in to poke a loose ball past CSKA's 17-year-old goalkeeper Igor Akineev. Ten minutes later, the advantage was doubled as Brazilian striker Oliveira Wandeir Dos Santos outpaced his marker to produce a magnificent finish into the corner of the net.
CSKA, who had hit the woodwork twice in the first half through Jirí Jarošik and Igor Yanovski, continued to press forward, and after Kiritchenko had gone close in the 75th minute, the same player grabbed a last-minute consolation after Serguei Samodine had flicked on an Alan Koussov cross. The goal offered CSKA coach Valeri Gazzaev hope for next Wednesday's return leg, when a tie against AC Sparta Praha will be up for grabs. He said: "We played poor football, but I am hoping the return leg will be better. We can still make it to third round."
Nothing is certain
Meanwhile, Vardar coach Zoran Stratev said: "We wanted to sit deep and hurt them with quick counterattacks, and we did have some luck, scoring twice from three chances.
But we knew CSKA were strong and that is why we used those tactics. But this sort of game will not work twice and it is going to be an extremely difficult fixture in Skopje as tonight's result does not guarantee anything."
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