INTRODUCTION: Football -- and poor finishing in front of goal prevented Albania's Vllaznia from capitalizing on the best of play against a cautious Panathinaicos of Greece in their Balkan States Cup match on Sunday (17 April).
INTRODUCTION: Football -- and poor finishing in front of goal prevented Albania's Vllaznia from capitalizing on the best of play against a cautious Panathinaicos of Greece in their Balkan States Cup match on Sunday (17 April). The Albanians, playing at home, were held to a one-all draw.
SYNOPSIS: The Greek team, in white shirts, playing right to left, kicked off. The opening stages were steady rather than exciting as both sides probed carefully to weigh up each other's strengths and weaknesses. The crisp and flowing play reflected the all-round strengths of the teams, which are both riding high in their domestic championships - Panathinaicos lying second in Greece and Vllaznia fourth in Albania.
After the Greeks had a near miss, Vllaznia scored in the seventh minute when Basha's somewhat speculative shot from 45 metres (yards) second to take the Greek goalkeeper by surprise.
The success put a lot of confidence into Vllaznia players and they began to batter away at the Greek defence. But effective work further upfield repeatedly went for nothing as attacks kept breaking down in the final approaches to goal.
Panathinaicos were frustrated until the 25th minute. A free kick crossed from the right found inside left Vakalis who volleyed into the net.
In the second half, Vllaznia controlled much of the play but still lacked the vital penetration. And when they did move into scoring positions, their shooting was off target.
The home crowd of 15,000 in the Voyo Kushi stadium saw their team peppering away at goal and putting the Greek goalkeeper under heavy pressure -- but to no avail. A final corner kick almost won the match for Vllaznia. But the ball squirted from a melee of threshing legs only to hit the post and get kicked into touch.