Defeat in Azerbaijan, but a 5-3 aggregate win sees us progress in the ECL

There were lots of chances, posts, missed penalties, big saves and a home win in the Gabala SC - Vidi ECL rematch.

On Thursday night, for the first time in their history, Vidi played in Azerbaijan in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League. A week ago, we won 4-1 at the MOL Arena Sósto, so we had a comfortable lead going into the return leg. Head coach Michael Boris made a number of changes to the starting line-up, with Stopira, Makarenko, Bumba and Zivzivadze all coming into the starting line-up. Vidi started the game with the following line-up: Kovács - Nego, Serafimov, Stopira, Shabanov, Heister - Bumba, Fiola, Makarenko, Dárdai - Zivzivadze.

The home team's manager Elmar Bakhshiyev did not take advantage of the rotation, with only Murad Musayev missing from last week's starting line-up, who was replaced by Omar Hani. The good news was that Qirtimov, who suffered a concussion in the first leg match, had recovered and was included in the Gabala SC starting line-up. 

Gabala SC started the return match as well as they did a week ago in Székesfehérvár. In the 3rd minute, the home team had a dangerous counter-attack after a corner, Nego cleared in front of our box. Three minutes later, Felipe Santos got on the end of the ball and the home striker fired wide from 15 metres out. After a quarter of an hour, the Azeri team found themselves in a great position, Felipe Santo pounced on a loose ball and could have headed it into our goal, but Dani Kovács was well paced and caught the ball..

In the 23rd minute, we had our first chance, Bumba received a gift ball from the home defenders, and our Romanian striker powered a shot from 20 meters, just wide of the goal. Two minutes later, Felipe Santos was in position again, but his 16-metre shot was blocked. Another two minutes had elapsed Schorr, who scored in the first leg, was on the end of a throw-in and fired from an acute angle, just wide of the target. 

In the 31st minute, our third corner kick was met by Serafimov on the far side, who shot onto the crossbar from close range. Soon afterwards, Gabala SC took the lead. Muradov, who had played well in the first game, turned away from his defender in the 33rd minute and fired a 22-metre shot into the bottom left corner, which Kovács had no chance to save (1-0). Five minutes before the break, Nego could have equalised from a penalty - Bumba fought to win the spot kick after a nice trick - but Nego missed the chance. Fortunately, this did not hold our team back and we managed to equalise before the break. In the 44th minute, Zivzivadze burst forward and fired into the bottom left corner from 19 metres (1-1). Just like a week ago, the teams went into the half-time break with a 1-1 draw. 

The second half started with a huge home chance, Ruan, the central defender, ventured forward and rolled the ball towards goal from 16 meters, Dani Kovács made a great save to tip the ball to the left post, and our defenders cleared the ball. In the 58th minute, Alimi's free kick was cleared under the bar by Kovács. 

Michael Boris made three changes in the 62nd minute, with Petryak, Kodro and Funsho replacing Bumba, Zivzivadze and Dárdai. In the 64th minute, Petryak delivered a corner kick well, and Fiola's header rattled off the right post. In the 70th minute, Muradov's 23-metre free-kick hit the top bar, and three minutes later Felipe Santos raced in from half way line, the lightning striker outrunning the defenders and finishing a 40-metre sprint with a clever 15-metre shot into the net (2-1).

No more goals were scored in the last quarter of an hour, so with a 5-3 aggregate score we advanced to the third qualifying round of the ECL, where we will meet the winner of the match between Laci from Albania and Petrocub from Moldova. The first match will take place next Thursday in Székesfehérvár.

Author: David Rechnitzer

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