Ndubuisi Egbo’s quest for a place in the UEFA Champions League Group Stage came to an end on Tuesday night following KF Tirana’s 1-0 home defeat to Crvena Zvezda.
The Albanian champions, who had overcome Dinamo Tbilisi in the previous qualifying round, had the better of the opportunities in the game. They were, however, undone by a 61st-minute strike by the Serbian champions, who are now one game away from the Group Stage.
Tirana, who were missing speedy left-back Marcel Ismajlgeci due to food poisoning suffered on the eve of the game, produced a disciplined performance without the ball. Their counterattacking game also reaped rewards going forward: winger Elton Cale and full-back Erjon Hoxhallari drew saves from Crvena Zvezda goalkeeper Milan Borjan in the first half, before striker Ernest Muci saw his effort come back off the upright just before the hour-mark.
Dejan Stankovic’s side would however break the deadlock soon after, with Tomane rising highest from a corner to head past Ilion Lika in the Tirana goal.
The clearest chance yet for Tirana fell to Ghanaian winger Winful Cobbinah, who went clean through but blazed over from close range despite having a team mate available in a better position.
This defeat means Egbo’s Tirana now go into Europa League qualifying.