Happy day in Strumica as Macedonian champion FC Vardar sent Malmo packing with a 3-1 win, despite going down 0-1 early in the match after the Ukrainian ref awarded a penalty to the Swedish side.
Vardar had a huge disadvantage and was unable to play its home match against Malmoe at their grounds in Skopje due to the upcoming UEFA Super Cup clash between Real Madrid and Manchester United. As a result, Vardar played at FC Belasica’s farm land in Strumica.
We are not sure how UEFA approved this stadium for a Champions League match, considering both Bitola and Prilep have better stadiums.
During the first half, Vardar played rather nervously and it seems like they would attempt to go for a 0-0 draw that will take them to he next round. This quickly changed after Malmoe scored from penalty. Several dubious decisions by the Ukrainian ref appeared to motivate Vardar. First the home side Boatero bolted through the Swedish defense with a clear path on goal and was brought down from behind by Brorrson. Should have been a straight red for the Swede, but the ref opted for yellow. Moments later, Malmoe defender handled the ball in the penalty box, but he Ukrainian ref stayed silent.
Everything changed when Vardar’s captain headed in a goal from a corner kick, tying he score. Five minutes later, Vardar’s Felipe was brought down in the penalty box, however missed the penalty. Luckily for Felipe, Armenian inernational Barseghyan was there to pounce on the ball for a 2-1.
When everyone expected the match to end, it was talisman Boban Nikolov (scored in Sweden), who utilized his predatorial instict to receive a ball and slot home in the 90th minute for a 3-1. The stadium erupted in celebrations.
Next up for Vardar is Danish champ FC Copenhagen. Not that it matters, by moving in the next round FC Vardar has already pocketed over 1m euros.
Last, but not least, lets say a few words on the dog guarding the Strumica stadium. It did its job superbly. Was courteous to Swedish fans, did bark when Vardar scored. Dogs know how to celebrate.