Albania’s Skenderbeu progress to Europa League play-offs

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 4, 2017 12:39

Albania’s Skenderbeu progress to Europa League play-offs

Skenderbeu supporters

Skenderbeu supporters

TIRANA, Aug. 4 – Skenderbeu progressed to the UEFA Europa League play-offs on Thursday night as they eliminated Czech Republic’s Mladá Boleslav in a penalty shootout after extra time finished 2-1, making it  3-3 on aggregate.

Skenderbeu, who lost the first leg away match 2-1, came from behind to score two second half goals with a penalty converted by midfielder Sabien Lilaj and a late extra-time winner by Sebino Plaku.

Goalkeeper Orges Shehi, the “Snow Wolves” captain, was the penalty shootout hero as he converted the opening penalty and saved Mlada’s fourth spot kick, sealing Skenderbeu’s progress from the third qualifying round.

Skenderbeu could now face Ajax, Turkey’s Fenerbahçe, Bulgaria’s Ludogorets, Belarusian Bate Borisov, Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb or Israel’s Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the play off ties scheduled for August 17 to 24.

Skenderbeu has a chance to make history again by progressing to the group stage of the Europa League after their 2015-2016 debut.

Skenderbeu progressed to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League after beating Kazakhstan’s Kairat Almaty 3-1 on aggregate, remaining the sole Albanian club in European competition after all Kukes, Partizani and Tirana were disqualified in their first round campaigns. In the first qualifying round, Skenderbeu easily beat modest Andorran side Sant Julia 6-0 on aggregate.

Skenderbeu return to European competition after a one-year ban imposed by European football governing body, UEFA, on match-fixing allegations in the 2015-2016 Champions and Europa League campaigns.

Last June, Albania’s football association also stripped the ‘Snow Wolves’ of their 2015-2016 Superliga title on match fixing allegations, cutting their six straight titles to five. The club have denied any wrongdoing.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 4, 2017 12:39