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Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 18:29 UK

Flamurtari 1-0 Motherwell

John Sutton's penalty is saved by Shpetim Mocka
Sutton's miss proved to be a crucial turning point in the match

Motherwell lost the first leg of their Europa League second qualifying round tie against Albanian hosts Flamurtari.

After a goalless first half, the visitors were awarded a penalty just after the break when John Sutton was fouled by Bledion Guga.

Sutton, who had earlier hit the bar, netted from 12 yards but was ordered to retake the spot-kick and goalkeeper Shpetim Mocka saved the second attempt.

And Emir Strati punished Well when he struck the winner after 66 minutes.

Motherwell, who fielded an unchanged starting line-up to the one which beat Llanelli last week, endured a three-hour journey from Tirana and arrived at Stadiumi Flamurtari two hours before kick-off.

The searing heat in Vlorë prompted referee Fritz Stuchlik to take the unusual step of stopping the match for a two-minute water break in both halves.

The hosts created the first meaningful chance when a Roberto Alviz pass landed at the feet of Franc Velui but the defender could not direct his effort on target.

Well, who had new signing Steve Jennings on the bench, came close when Stephen Hammell's 25-yard free-kick curled over.

Both sides were forced into substitutions before the break with Odise Roshi replacing Ardit Shehaj for Flamurtari and Motherwell's Jonathan Page introduced for Steven Saunders.

As half-time approached, Sutton was inches away from opening the scoring when he headed Keith Lasley's lofted cross against the bar.

Flamurtari responded with Roshi heading another Alviz corner onto the top of the bar and the woodwork came to the visitors' rescue again early in the second half when Devis Mema's low shot rebounded off the post.

Flamurtari players celebrate scoring against Motherwell
Strati (far left) celebrates his goal with his team-mates

Motherwell were given the opportunity to score an away goal in the 56th minute after Guga tugged Sutton's shirt in the box as Flamurtari tried to defend Hammell's free-kick.

Sutton thought he had opened the scoring only to be ordered to take the penalty again with referee Fritz Stuchlik insisting there had been encroachment by a home player.

And Mocka made a crucial block by pushing the ball past the post.

Having escaped the penalty scare, Flamurtari set about gaining an advantage to take into the second leg and were rewarded when Strati's half-volley from 20 yards found the bottom-left corner of the net.

Motherwell rallied in search of a leveller but left themselves exposed at the back and Mema's replacement Elhan Galica drew a save from Fraser.

Jamie Murphy got a sight of goal deep into injury-time but the substitute was frustrated by another Mocka save.

The second leg takes place at Airdrie United's Excelsior Stadium next Thursday with Motherwell's Fir Park still undergoing remedial work.


Flamurtari: Mocka, Beqiri, Guga, Veliu, Begaj, Strati, Ngjele (Junior 46), Zeqiri, Alviz, Shehaj (Roshi 36), Mema (Galica 77).
Subs Not Used: Xhelilaj, Sakaj, Merxha, Kuqi.

Booked: Begaj, Guga, Strati.

Goals: Strati 66.

Motherwell: Fraser, Saunders (Page 40), Craigan, Reynolds, Hammell, O'Brien, Lasley, Forbes (Murphy 74), Slane, McGarry (Fitzpatrick 64), Sutton.
Subs Not Used: Kosiorowski, Jennings, Hutchinson, McHugh.

Booked: Forbes, Hammell.

Att: 4,012

Ref: Fritz Stuchlik (Austria).



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see also
Gannon unhappy over Well penalty
16 Jul 09 |  Europe
Europa League photos
16 Jul 09 |  Europe


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