Rabotnicki's derby win throws FYROM race open

"This is our sweetest victory," FK Rabotnicki forward Borche Manevski told UEFA.com after a 2-1 derby win against Skopje rivals FK Vardar which threw the title race wide open.

Borce Manevski celebrates after scoring Rabotnicki's equaliser in their derby win
Borce Manevski celebrates after scoring Rabotnicki's equaliser in their derby win ©UEFA.com

FK Rabotnicki forward Borche Manevski scored one and set up another as his side beat Skopje rivals FK Vardar 2-1 on Saturday to throw the Macedonian First League title race wide open with a third of the season remaining.

Rabotnicki's narrow win in the 65th Skopje derby moved Igor Angelovski's side level on points with opponents and holders Vardar and FK Turnovo on 38 points at the summit. However, with just 11 points covering the top nine teams and only 11 games remaining, the Macedonian First League title race is set for one of the most dramatic climaxes in recent years.

Vardar opened the scoring in the 37th minute through 18-year-old Jasir Asani but Manevski turned the tide. Firstly, he equalised from close range on 45 minutes and then supplied a superb cross for Bazhe Ilijoski to head in the winner early in the second period. Unbeaten in their last 13 outings, Vardar threw men forward late on but headers from Antonio Bujchevski and Dimitrija Lazarevski hit the frame the goal and Rabotnicki held on.

"This is our sweetest victory this season," Manevski told UEFA.com. "We knew that it was going to be a very difficult game, but each and every one of us put our heart into it and we truly deserved to win."

Angelovski praised the character of his side and emphasised the importance of their 25th victory over Vardar. "All credit goes to the players, who didn't get disappointed after going behind, but instead showed a great fighting spirit and character," he said. "They are our city rivals but also a fellow title contender, so this win brought us double joy."

Vardar assistant coach Aleksandar Vasoski was not so upbeat after a defeat which means there could be four teams level on points at the summit should fourth-placed FK Pelister beat FK Makedonija on Tuesday. "We are obviously very disappointed as we lost an important game in the title race," he told UEFA.com as Vardar chase their eighth crown. "There's no room for error anymore.

"We must take stock and get back to winning ways as soon as possible. We have to win all our remaining games. We know it is going to be tough, but that's what we need to do because anything except a defence of the title will be a failure for us."

With so many teams still in contention the final third of the season is set to be a thriller, but only club can prevail.