Hibernians into 3rd Qualifying round in UEFA Conference LeaguePublished: 30-07-2021 08:30
Hibernians did Malta proud by qualifying to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League, beating San Marino champions Folgore 7-3 on aggregate. Unfortunately, in the same competition, Birkirkara and Gzira United were eliminated, but both with their heads held high. Birkirkara stretched Olimpija Ljubljana from Slovenia to the limit during an epic European Cup night yesterday evening, a match which was decided on penalties. Gzira United had to face Croatian giants NK Rijeka, losing 3-0 on aggregate but without being outplayed. UEFA Europa Conference League Qualification 2nd RoundFolgore 1-3 HiberniansHibernians 4-2 FolgoreHibernians will play in the 3rd Qualifying round of the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League after a double win over San Marino champions SS Folgore. In the away match, Stefano Sanderra’s side came from behind when Eric Fedeli gave Folgore an early fifth minute lead. In the 13th minute, Jurgen Degabriele equalised and just before the half hour mark, Jake Grech gave Hibernians the lead. Grech sealed the issue seven minutes from full-time with his second goal of the evening. In the return match, Degabriele put Hibernians 1-0 up in the ninth minute, but Fedeli equalised on 28 minutes. In added time of the first half, Yaya Jassey punished a defensive mistake by Hibernians to give the visitors an unexpected 2-1 lead at half-time. After the break however, goals by Wilfried Domoraud, another one by Degabriele and Jake Grech sealed Hib’s win, who now meet Riga FC from Latvia in another double encounter on 5 and 12 August. The first leg will be played in Riga. The winner of these matches will play against the loser of the encounter between Lincoln Red Imps (Gibraltar) or Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia) for one spot in the group stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League. Gzira United 0-2 RijekaRijeka 1-0 Gzira UnitedGzira United were drawn against a difficult opponent as Rijeka from Croatia proved to be too strong over two legs, winning 3-0 on aggregate. Gzira opened with a solid performance at the Centenary Stadium. In a balanced encounter, substitute Denis Busnja scored the opener for the guests on 57 minutes, with Prince Ampem doubling twenty minutes later. It was a harsh result on the hosts, who shared the exchanges throughout the ninety minutes. Late in the game, Rijeka’s Ivan Lepinjica was shown his second yellow card and received his marching orders. In the return match, Gzira could not repeat the surprise of three years ago, when they beat Hajduk Split 1-3 after an identical 2-0 loss at home. Josip Drmic scored the only goal of the match in the 27th minute, enough to give Rijeka a place in the 3rd Qualifying round. Olimpija Ljubljana 1-0 BirkirkaraBirkirkara 1- 0 Olimpija Ljubljana(Olimpija win 4-5 on penalties)Andre Paus’ Birkirkara proved to be a hard nut to crack for their more quoted opponents Olimpija from Slovenia. In the away match in Ljubljana, Birkirkara displayed an encouraging collective effort, with the Slovenians scoring only late in the game thanks to a goal by Mustafa Nukic in the 78th minute. In the return match at the Centenary Stadium, Diego Venancio’s superb free-kick gave the hosts a deserved lead on 27 minutes, a goal which put Birkirkara in the driving seat. After the break, the Stripes continued to be the dominant side, in an entertaining second half with plenty of goalscoring opportunities for both sides. During extra time, the homeside tried hard to create goalscoring opportunities, but clearly tired out with Olimpija creating the better chances. However, both teams failed to score, which mend that the penalties needed to decide the encounter. It was Olimpija who did not fail, scoring all five penalties, while Birkirkara missed once, which means Olimpija progressed to the next round. Birkirkara needs to be complimented however as they stretched the Slovenians to the limit in both encounters.