Skenderbeu claim first Europa League victory against Portugal’s Sporting

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 6, 2015 12:14

skenderbTIRANA, Nov. 6 – Albania’s Skenderbeu claimed their first UEFA Europa League victory on Thursday as they thrashed Portugal’s Sporting CP 3-0 after a disappointing performance in the first three matches of the group stage in their debut participation in this competition.

Skenderbeu avenged their disastrous 5-1 first-leg defeat away to Sporting with a double by Albanian international midfielder Sabien Lilaj in the first 19 minutes, the second from the penalty spot after the Sporting goalkeeper was sent off.

Skenderbeu’s Malian striker Nigama sealed the result with a long-range volley in the 56th minute, surprising 10-man Sporting.

Skenderbeu coach Mirel Josa said the Albanian five-time consecutive champions showed they are not inferior in this competition and did not qualify accidentally.

“We showed that we are not inferior in this very important competition. We made a perfect match and were superior in every ball possession. Sporting did not expect this defeat but this is football,” said Josa.

With two games to go, Skenderbeu rank bottom with 3 points in Group H, with little chances to qualify after three consecutive defeats in the first matches against Turkey’s Besiktas, Russia’s Lokomotiv Moscow and Portugal’s Sporting. Lokomotiv Moscow lead the group with 8 point followed by second-placed Besiktas with 6.

Skenderbeu’s last two group matches are away to Besiktas on Nov. 26 and home to Lokomotiv Moscow on Dec. 10.

Skenderbeu became the first Albanian club to qualify for the Champions League play-offs after beating Moldova’s Milsami 4-0 on aggregate in the competition’s third qualifying round, automatically securing a place in the less prestigious Europa League group stage.

Skenderbeu entered the Europa League after failing to qualify in the more prestigious UEFA Champions League after losing to Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb in the play-off stage.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times November 6, 2015 12:14