Malta Football Association
Birkirkara draw 1-1 in Europa League opener
Jun 28, 2018
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Ta’ Qali Centenary Stadium, 28.06.18

UEFA Europa League 2018/19 - Preliminary Round first leg

(HT 0-0)

1-0 Mifsud 72, 1-1 Pavlovic 88.

Birkirkara opened their European Cup commitments with a somewhat disappointing 1-1 home draw against Klaksvik from the Faroe Islands. Despite dominating the game, the Maltese had to settle for a draw, which leaves the outcome of the return match next week Thursday wide open

Birkirkara paraded six new signings in their starting line-up. At the heart of the defence, Brazilian Eduardo Mancha, ex-Guarani, and young 20-year-old Croatian Arian Mrsulja, who played last season for Italian D side Mezzolara, made their debut in Malta. In midfield, coach Paul Zammit opted for Nigerian Uchenna Umeh, ex-Valletta, along with Marcelinho, another Brazilian who played last season for Nacional Atletico Clube in Sao Paolo. Up front, 37-year-old Malta national team striker Michael Mifsud also made his debut for Birkirkara, together with a third Brazilian, Fabiano da Lima, who joined The Stripes from LASK Linz (Austria).

Klaksvik, currently ranked second in the Faroe Islands Premier league, started the match with four National U/21 team players in their line-up.

The first half was a drab affair with very few goal scoring opportunities. It was the home side who held the initiative however, with the best opportunity coming in the 33rd minute. Veteran Mifsud managed to beat his direct opponent on the right side but Marcelinho came inches short to meet his accurate pass inside the box with goalkeeper Kristian Joensen clearing the danger.

After the break, Birkirkara continued to control the match. The first real opportunity arrived in the 60th minute. Umeh was sent through on the left flank but again goalkeeper Joensen intercepted his cross before Marcelinho could connect. In the 72nd minute Birkirkara scored via a wonderful diagonal shot by Mifsud from the right, giving Joensen no chance. It was his ninth goal in the European Cup, and his first for Birkirkara.

With ten minutes left on the clock, a seventh new recruit entered the fray, Stanimir Miloskovic, a 34-year-old Serbian forward who impressed last season with Nadur Youngsters in Gozo with twelve goals in eleven league matches, replacing Marcelinho. In the 88th minute, Klaksvik drew level via a wonderful Deni Pavlovic header from a corner. Barely one minute later, Hordur Askham could have scored the winner after a forceful run on the right but his shot sailed just over the crossbar.

Birkirkara now await a long trip up North, were they play Klaksvik at their own Við Djúpumýrar stadium.

Birkirkara: K.Naumovski, E.Herrera, A.Mrsulja, Eduardo Mancha, C.Attard, U.Umeh, M.Andjelkovic, J.Grech, Marcelinho, (S.Miloskovic 80), Fabiano de Lima, M.Mifsud
Klaksvik: K.Joensen, J.K.Danielsen, D.Pavlovic, M.Dusak, (S.Olsen 71),  O.Niclasen, (M. A Bergi 86), J.Andreasen, S.Hadzibulic, H.Askham, J.Bjartalid, (R.Moeller-Iversen 82), P.Klettskard, B.Dosljak.

Referee: Besfort Kasumi (Kosovo)
Bookings: Herrera (B), Danielsen (K)
Attendance: 954

Photo credits; Domenic Aquilina

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