Andorran champions FC Rànger's are not ready to kiss their European dreams goodbye just yet despite trailing FC Sheriff 2-0 from last week's away fixture.
Andorran champions FC Rànger's are not ready to kiss their European dreams goodbye just yet despite trailing FC Sheriff 2-0 from last week's away leg.
The tiny amateur side's first qualifying round tie concludes tonight in the Principality, but the inspirational example of FC Santa Coloma - who became the first Andorran club to win a game in Europe last Thursday, beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC 1-0 at home in the first leg of a UEFA Cup first qualifying round tie - may yet give Rànger's hope against their Moldovan opponents.
Goals from Evgheni Gorodetchil and Aleksei Kuchuk put Sheriff ahead on the night with Rànger's having both goalkeeper Gregorio Rodríguez and Sergio Albanell dismissed, but captain Justo Ruiz remained positive, saying: "We've achieved our main objective which was to have our options for the return leg. We played well and it was a shame to lose 2-0 because we could have come home with a 1-0."
Rànger's' players arrived back from Moldova last Thursday with several of them then making their way to the Estadi Comunal to watch Santa Coloma in action. They duly witnessed one of the most important nights in the history of Andorran football as Juli Fernández's 56th-minute goal earned Santa Coloma a 1-0 win and sent a new wave of optimism surging through the Principality.
Nothing to lose
A 1-0 win, however, is small stuff compared to the three-goal margin Rànger's will need to be certain of a second qualifying round tie against Beşiktaş JK, but Ruiz felt defiant. He said: "I think we will see a good match at the Comunal because if we play well we can at least complicate things for Sheriff, although we can't forget they are 2-0 up and we need to score three goals."