SANT JULIA 0
GŻIRA UNITED 0
I. Zabal; Tawaba, Cendros, Echaide, Begeorgi, Dani (46 N. Bouekou), G. Gonzalez, C. Cano, N. Kambi, M. Eboungue, F. Nimani (72 V. Rizzo).
J. Haber; S. Borg, G. Bohrer, T. Espindola, D. Xuereb, Z. Scerri (58 S. Pisani), N. Muscat, J. Mendoza, M. Davis, R. Correa (70 Jefferson). Maxuell (80 C. Gauci).
Referee Haris Kaljanac (Bosnia FA).
Yellow cards Correa, Dani, Borg, Cendros, Kambi, Cano.
Gżira United opened their UEFA Europa Conference League commitments with a goalless draw against Sant Julia, in the first leg played in Andorra.
It was not the best of performances by the Maltese side but it was understandable given this was their first official outing since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, Sant Julia’s last game was in May when they won the Andorran Cup.
Sant Julia and Gżira United exchanged proceedings in the early stages as the game was played on a slow rhythm. The hosts were looking to push forward whereas Gżira were happy defending in their own half and waiting to catch their opponents on the break.
The Andorran side had the first chance of the game when forward Nimani saw his close-range effort blocked by Justin Haber before the Gżira goalkeeper turned Njie Kambi’s rebound into a corner.
Moments later, Kambi darted into the box before misfiring his shot to squander a glorious chance.
Kambi, who is known as Bacari and who boasts one Copa del Rey appearance, was giving a hard time to the Maroons backline and he came close to score again on the 13th minute but Haber was once again alert to avert the danger.
Gżira’s reply came on the 22nd minute when Jackson Mendoza let fly a shot from the edge of the area but it went over.
As the half wore on, Gżira were making it harder for Sant Julia to break through whereas the Maltese side rarely threatened going forward as both teams headed to the dressing rooms locked in a goalless stalemate.
At the restart, Sant Julia were once again on the front foot in an attempt to break the deadlock but could make their possession count.
On the other hand, Gżira’s first chance in the second 45 minutes dropped onto the feet of forward Maxuellwhen he fired a volley onto the outside of the net.
Midway into the game, coach Darren Abdilla replaced Zack Scerri with Steve Pisani to give an offensive impetus to the team with his long-ball distribution.
However, it was Sant Julia who came closest to forge ahead when Kambi whipped in a cross from the left-hand side on which Nimani connected to produce a thumping volley that was deflected into corner by Haber.
From the resultant set-piece, Makoube Eboungue hit the crossbar with a towering header.
Twenty minutes from time, Jefferson came on to add more physical presence upfront for the Maroons.
In the closing stages, the game had to be stopped for several minutes after Gżira’s Maxuell needed medical assistance following a collision with the Sant Julia goalkeeper. The Brazilian had to be stretchered off as newcomer Clive Gauci, who joined from Żebbuġ Rangers, replaced him.
After a lengthy stop, the game took off with Gżira being the better team as they were looking for a late goal. However, their efforts were in vain as neither team managed to find the net.