Floriana coach Vincenzo Potenza heaped praise on his players after the Malta champions booked their place into the third qualifying round of the Europa League when they beat Northern Ireland side Linfield 1-0 at Windsor Park on Thursday.
A Mathias Garcia goal after only ten minutes of play was enough for the Greens to proceed to the next round of the competition even though they needed to come through a tough final quarter of the match where the team was put under pressure by a ten-man Linfield side.
But here goalkeeper Ini Akpan came to the fore with two fine blocks, one in particular in stoppage time, that preserved the team’s victory and left them just two wins a way from a place in the Europa League group stages.
Next up for Floriana is a match against Flora Tallinn at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday. The Estonian side reached the next round after they beat KR Reykjavik, of Iceland, 2-1 at home.
“This is a great victory for us in Q3 which enables us to proceed to a ‘semi-final’ against Flora Tallinn,” Potenza told Floriana FC Media just after the final whistle.
“I would like to thank my team that never stops to amaze me both from a physical and tactical point of view as well when it comes to the need of suffering in key moments.
“We have prepared this match like a top team thanks to the support of our club committee and certainly deserved this victory.”
Potenza admitted that the team could have done better when they found themselves with a player more on the pitch following the dismissal of Ross Larkin.
“Could we done better when we found ourselves with a player more? Yes, may be. But the reality is that we have a number of players who are still recovering from various injuries and therefore we had to suffer a bit in the final stages,” the Italian coach said.
“However, we need to improve from a physical aspect. We are still at an early stage of the season and hopefully the team will continue to improve for the rest of the campaign.”