|Livingston 0 Vaduz 0|
Livingston are through to the UEFA Cup First Round but only by the skin of their teeth after an escape of Houdini proportions at the newly named City Stadium (AKA Almondvale) tonight.
Livvy went into tonight's tie knowing that three Scottish clubs were already safely in tomorrow's UEFA Cup draw, and following a 1-1 result in Liechtenstein they had every right to regard themselves as favourites, yet could only manage a goalless draw courtesy of a hairsbreadth refereeing decision that cruelly robbed tiny Vaduz of the greatest result in their history. A corner-kick awarded to the Swiss Second Division side deep into injury time saw Perez swing a ball over that was only half-cleared by Livvy defender Rubio, falling perfectly for Marius Zarn who sent a powerful twenty-yard drive thundering into the top corner of the net. Liechtenstein joy was short-lived however for Croatian Referee Ivan Nowak indicated that he had blown for full-time with the ball in mid-air.
Vaduz were positive from the start, and indeed came close to wiping out Livingstonšs away goal advantage in six minutes when Zarnšs shot from a Martin Telser pass was turned wide by Broto.The opening stages were dire, with the home side clearly nervous and uncertain. A Rolando Zarate free-kick from some 22 yards produced Livvy's first effort on target, only for Peiser to fist the ball clear. Vaduz were dangerous on the break, and almost caught Livingston out in 40 minutes when Vaidotas Slekys' cross was just inches away from his inrushing colleagues. A quite appalling first-half, played throughout in a funereal atmosphere, almost ended on a positive note when Bingham's cross found Zarate whose header was just wide of the target.
Livingston did manage to step up the pace in the second-half, Camacho creating an opening in 59 minutes following a one-two with Bingham only to be crowded out, then sixty seconds later a strong penalty appeal was turned down when Bingham was bundled off the ball by Niederhauser. Livvy were at last starting to apply some pressure a mazy run by Francisco Quino in 63 minutes ended with an eighteen-yard shot that flashed just wide.
Vaduz were by no means out of it however substitute Thomas Beck's low drive two minutes later forced Broto into a fine save. The visitors were reduced to ten men in 75 minutes when Telser received his second yellow card for a foul on David Bingham. Bingham was looking dangerous as the game drew to a close, and one penetrating run should have produced the breakthrough with just ten minutes remaining when his cross found substitute Barry Wilson who alas sliced his shot wide.
The closing stages were fraught indeed for a Livingston side hanging on for dear life. Renato Brugnoli almost upset the applecart in 87 minutes when his 25-yard shot shaved the post. The final drama was reserved for injury time however and that split-second timing by the referee that conjured up memories of Clive Thomas in the 1978 World Cup, denying Vaduz their moment of glory.
Livingston thus progress into the next round of the UEFA Cup, but progress over a club from Liechtenstein on the away goals rule is more an embarrassment than success.
Livingston: Broto; Brinquin, Bahoken, Andrews, Rubio; Cherif (Makel 57), Lovell, Quino; Bingham (Dadi 80), Zarate, Camacho (Wilson 61)
Unused subs: McEwan, Xausa, Dorado, Bollan
Vaduz: Peiser; Telser, Niederhauser, Stocklasa, Brugnoli; Slekys, Merenda (Buechel 64), Perez, Zarn; Burgmeier (Beck 57), Obhafuosa (Polverino 80)
Unused sub: Silva, Walz, Stocklasa, Ritter
Referee: Ivan Novak (Croatia)