FC Astana prove too strong for VallettaPublished: 16-08-2019 10:10
UEFA Europa League_Third Qualifying Round 2nd LegValletta FC ….. 0FC Astana …… 4A long European run this summer for Valletta ended on Thursday night with a 4-0 defeat at the National Stadium against FC Astana from Kazakhstan. This return match from the UEFA Europa League Third Qualifying Round yet again proved too difficult for the Maltese Champions against this powerful side who had already floored the Lilywhites a week before in Kazakhstan by beating them 5-1. A host of absentees once again shackled Valletta’s chances with goalkeeper Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana, Santiago Malano and Bojan Kaljevic all ruled out injured. Coach Darren Abdilla started with a 4-3-3 formation with Matteo Piciollo and Kevin Tulimieri aiding Mario Fontanella upfront. Again impressive was young Jean Borg who is rather swiftly becoming a leader in the Lilywhites backline, helped last night by the experience of skipper Ryan Camilleri. In the middle of the park as always terrific Rowen Muscat who can run through the opposing defence, with all his box to box attributes and composed on the ball. Astana went in front with a fine finishing in the bottom right corner by Roman Murtazayev on 25 minutes, before half-time they added a second through Marin Tomasov. Early in the second half young Eslit Sala, Shaun Dimech and Nicky Pulis came on trying to lift their side, and Valletta came close on 65 minutes through Fontanella who was unlucky to hit the foot of the post with an angled shot. Third goal for Astana few seconds later and a brace for Roman Murtazayev outjumping his direct marker and beating Yenz Cini on his near post with a towering header. 4-0 in the final seconds of the match with Marin Tomasov emulating his colleague and also finding his brace with a neat finish on 89 minutes. FC Astana winners at Ta’ Qali 4-0, and 9-1 on aggregate.