Floriana vs CFR Cluj 0-2
Floriana’s adventure in this season’s Champions League came to an end at the first hurdle as the Greens lost to Romanian side CFR Cluj at the Centenary Stadium last night.
A Cestor Mike goal early in the second half and another from substitute Catalin Golofca were enough for Dan Petrescu’s side to book their place into the second qualifying round of the UEFA’s top competition where they will face Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb.
To be honest, CFR Cluj failed to set any houses on fire as they looked lacklustre for much of the opening 45 minutes as they never created any danger to Ini Akpan’s goal.
But after the break, Cluj produced that much-needed quality to grab the vital goals that knocked out the stuffing off Floriana who failed to find any kind of response and in the end they were knocked out of the competition.
Floriana will now head to the Europa League competition where they will be in the draw for the second qualifying round draw scheduled for August 31.
10.58pm Final whistle…. CFR Cluj beat Floriana to progress.
10.56pm GOAL… Cluj score again when in a quick break Mario Rondon finds Catalin Golofca who heads home and seal Cluj’s win.
10.52pm Last chance for Floriana as we enter the second of six minutes of stoppage time. They are awarded a central free-kick but substitute Brandon Paiber curls the ball just over.
10.46pm Four minutes left pluss stoppage time, can Floriana find a goal that sends the tie to extra-time?
10.42pm With nine minutes left, Potenza throws caution to the win when he withdraws defender Jurgen Pisani and ropes in attacking midfielder Brandon Paiber.
10.38pm CLOSE… Thirteen minutes from time, Leone surges into the area and despite being in a close angle he still shoots at goal and Balgradean manages to keep the ball out with his outstretched foot.
10.33pm Another opportunity for Floriana when they are awarded a central free-kick but Venancio’s shot hits the wall and is cleared…. drinks break as we enter the final 15 minutes.
10.27pm Both sides effect their first substitution with Marcelo Dias replacing Flavio Cheveresan for Floriana while the visitors respond with the introduction of Luis Aurelio for Calin Itu.
10.22pm Floriana almost respond a minute later when Tiago Fonseca sends a fine throughball towards the steaming Leone but the Italian sees his effort deflected just past the upright following Paulo Vinicius’ tackle.
10.20pm Below you can see Mike Cestor’s fine goal for Cluj to give the Romanians a deserved lead.
GOAL…. Cluj score. 53 minutes on the clock and from the corner, taken by Pereira, Mike Cestor jumps over his marker to head past Akpan.
10.12pm Second yellow card for Floriana as Keqi goes for the book. From the free-kick, Akpan fails to hold to the ball but Michael Pereira’s shot is deflected to a corner.
10.08pm Three minutes gone into the second half and Cluj are immediately on the attack winning a free-kick with Akpan showing quick reflexes to take the ball off Ciprian Deac.
9.46pm That was that as referee Laurent Kopriwa, of Luxembourg, blows the final whistle to sent both teams to the half-time interval. Floriana will be the happier side as they are firmly in this tie even though they need to step up their attacking game. On the other hand, Petrescu will not be happy with his players’ performance as Cluj struggle to create any danger.
We take a short break but stay with us when the second half starts in 15 minutes time.
10.02pm Both sets of teams are back on the pitch as the start of the second half is just a couple of minutes away. Hopefully, the match will provide much better fare than the first. Can Floriana create an upset?
9.45pm The first shot on target comes from Cluj on the stroke of half-time but Mario Rondon’s header is easily saved by Akpan.
9.42pm Cluj finally come close three minutes from the break Catalin Itu storms into the Floriana area but his shot is deflected just wide by Ryan Camenzuli. From the ensuing corner, two Cluj players fall to the floor and the visitors appeal for a penalty but the referee ignores the pleas.
There are going to be four minutes of stoppage time till the end of the first half.
9.35pm Potenza looks pleased with his team’s defensive organization but a cause of concern for him ishis team’s lack of flair when pushing forward as they are rarely creating any semblance of threat for Cristiasn Balgradean, in the Cluj goal.
9.27pm The first player to be shown the yellow card of the match is Floriana striker Cheveresan but luckily for Floriana, Cluj’s free-kick comes to nothing.
9.25pm The clock marks 25 minutes and both sets of teams go for the drinks’ break still goalless and with no real scoring opportunity on the board.
9.17pm Seventeen minutes played and we have yet to have an effort on target as Floriana are showing great defensive organisation while Cluj are struggling to find any spaces.
9.10pm The match has been devoid of action so far with scoring chances few and far between. Clu have just won a free-kick on the right hand side but it came to nothing as Floriana goalkeeper Ini Akpan charged out of goal to intercept the cross.
9.05pm In this early stages, Floriana’s attacking tactics are quiet clear as they are trying to target Cheveresan with high balls so that the Brazilian can release the like of Fonseca and Keqi who are running from behind. But so far that has failed to yield any danger to the Cluj.
9pm The match has kicked off and inside the first minute Cluj won a corner but Andrei Burca was deemed to has fouled his opponents and Floriana were awarded a free-kick.
8.58pm The teams are out and we are awaiting for kick-off.
8.55pm On his part, Vincenzo Potenza, the Floriana coach, admitted that his team faces a tough task but he said that he still had full faith in his players that they could produce an upset.
8.50pm In his pre-match press conference Dan Petrescu was critical of Floriana’s decision to hold the match on the artificial pitch at the Centenary Stadium
8.40pm Dan Petrescu, the CFR Cluj coach, is without a number of regular players for tonight’s play. Andrei Burca, who normally plays at the heart of the defence, started at right-back while upfront their prolific striker Traore is missing.
8.35pm Floriana coach Vincenzo Potenza named his strongest formation for tonight’s match. New signings midfielder Nicola Leone and Brazilian striker Flavio Cheveresan were handed their competitive debut. Jurgen Pisani is again skippering the side.
8.30am Welcome to our live blog of the Champions League clash between Floriana and CFR Cluj. This is a big night for the Greens who are making their first appearance in UEFA’s elite competition for the first time after an absence of 27 years.