Malta Football Association
Gżira United advance to Europa League first round
Jul 5, 2018
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Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA

  • Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA
  • Photo: Domenic Aquilina/MFA


Centenary Stadium, Ta’ Qali, Malta
UEFA Europa League 2018/19
Preliminary Round, 2nd leg

(HT 0-0)

0-1 Mendez 62, 1-1 Samb (pen) 65, 2-1 Bilbao 92.

Gżira United secured a place in the first qualifying round of the Europa League after a 2-1 win over Sant Julia on a hot and humid evening at Ta’ Qali. Although the visitors from Andorra proved more than a handful for the hosts, Gzira’s 4-1 aggregate win is much deserved.

Gżira United coach Darren Abdilla made one change from last week's first leg as Zachary Scerri was preferred to Nikolai Muscat. Brazilian striker Jorginho, scorer of the second goal in Andorra, again started on the bench.


The first chance of the match came from Spanish midfielder Walter Lee who just missed target with a shot from just outside the box after six minutes. 


In the 10th minute, Sant Julia goalkeeper Nico Ratti did well to turn an angled shot from Scerri into a corner. Captain Andrew Cohen could have put his side 1-0 up but his shot from inside the box was well saved by Ratti.

In the 35th minute, Roderick Briffa released Amadou Samb but the latter's effort was saved by the Sant Julia goalkeeper. 


In the seventh minute of the second half, Emmanuel Okoye went close to opening the scoring but his shot from close in was again saved by Ratti. 


From the resulting corner, Samb just headed over the crossbar.


The hosts continued to show the better ideas which resulted in another opportunity, now through flank defender Thomas Veronese (ex-Mosta), who missed the target after nearly one-hour play.

Against the run of play, it was Sant Julia who took the lead. A fine move by Joel Mendez del Rio ended with the latter hitting a low shot past Gżira goalkeeper Justin Haber in the 62nd minute. 


Barely a minute later, Gżira were awarded a penalty when Ratti appeared to have brought Edison Bilbao down in the box, with the referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot.


Senegalese striker Amadou Samb converted the kick in style.


In the 67th minute, Luis Blanco could have put the visitors ahead but he somehow missed from close-in, with Haber beaten.

Tempers flared following a series of rash tackles from the visitors in the last 20 minutes.


Sant Julia captain Blanco received his second caution of the night in the 87th minute and was sent off.


Two minutes into stoppage time, Chilean midfielder Edison Bilbao scored his side’s deserved winner with an angled shot from just outside the box.


Muscat could have added a third for his team but hit the post four minutes.

Gżira now face Serbian team Radnicki Nis in the first qualifying round, with the first leg away next week.

Gżira United

J.Haber, T.Veronese, Rodolfo Soares, D.Mambouana, C.Clifford-Baldacchino, Z.Scerri, (J.Corbolan 87), E.Bilbao, R.Briffa, A.Cohen, E.Okoye, (N.Muscat 69), A.Samb, (Jorginho 73).


Sant Julia

N.Ratti, N.Vasile, E.Pi, (D.A.Najera Quintero 57), J.Zarioh, J.Vinasco Lopez, Walter Lee, Pedro Munoz, (D.Linares Gonzalez 76), L.Bianco, J.A.Aguilar, (F.Girau 48), J.Mendez del Rio, V.Ramael

Referee: Juxhin Xhaja (Albania)


Yellow cards: Scerri (Gz), Zarioh, Blanco, Girau, Vasile(SJ)


Red card: Blanco (two cautions) 87.


Attendance: 694.




Birkirkara missed out on qualification to the first qualifying round of the Europa League after losing to Faroe Islands’ side KI Klaksvik 2-1 in the second leg of their preliminary round match on Thursday for a 3-2 aggregate defeat.


After a 1-1 draw in the first leg at the Centenary Stadium the previous week, Birkirkara fell two goals behind in Torshavn.


Deni Pavlovic, who had struck KI’s late equaliser in the first leg, opened the scoring just before half-time and captain Pall Klettskard doubld their advantage 14 minutes into the second half.


Marcelinho’s goal in the dying stages came too late for Birkirkara to push for an equaliser.


KI Klaskvik meet Lithuanian team FK Zalgiris Vilnius in the next round.

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