Serie A runners-up, AGSM Verona discovered a tricky life in Kazakhstan as they were beaten by hosts BIIK-Kazygurt 3-1. It is a tough loss to digest for the side from Verona, but not impossible to turnaround given the talent they boast in their squad.
Spirited start from the host side
While BIIK had the full squad at their disposal, AGSM Verona's coach Renato Longega had to leave out Lisa Boattin, Manuela Giugliano and Sofia Kongouli due to injuries. BIIK immediately inched up their way into the pitch and broke the deadlock after just three minutes through Charity Adule, whom with a superb placed shot, put the hosts in front.
Verona were down, but not beaten and they replied immediately with their new signing Domenique Bruinenberg but her effort went inches wide. Yet, it was the Kazakh side who put the ball into the net once again, when Gulnara Gabelia caught Verona's backline napping and fired a shot from the edge of the box to double the lead for her side at the break.
The Italian's fighting spirit did not prove enough
After the change of ends, Longega started to introduce new faces on the field, in search of that goal which would have given Verona a lifeline and they did so, as Melania Gabbiadini tapped in from a rebound following Veronica Pasini's shot which was temporarily blocked by the Kazakh goalkeeper. The goal seemed to have reignited Verona's spirit, as they started to mount pressure on their opponents' backline, yet they could not prevail from their continuous attacking maneuverers.
Their best chance arrived on the 75th minute when Marta Carro, who joined Verona from Atletico Madrid, within few metres of the post, did the impossible by striking the ball outside the upright and failed to equalise. Who fails to score, concedes the goal, and Verona affirmed that statement as the Kazakhs managed to wrap up the game with their third goal through Gabelia. She registered a personal double on a sweet evening for the Kazakhs and sour evening for the Italians.
What shall we expect in the return leg?
Both sides will meet again next week, on the 12th of October at the Stadio Bentegodi, home of Chievo Verona and Hellas Verona, with the Italian side striving to turnaround their deficit and produce another spectacular match on a European night, emulating last season's impressive campaign.
Meanwhile, BIIK will rely on their defensive resilience in order to pull another upset and knockout one of the best teams across Europe.