FLORA TALLINN 3
(Flora Tallinn win 5-0 on aggregate)
N. Vella, F. Apap, L. Almeida (52 T. Desira), J. Grech, J. Degabriele, B. Kristensen, D. Vella, Z. Grech (46 M. Beerman), Thaylor (62 A. Attard), A. Agius, W. Domoraud (72 F. Mensah).
M. Igonen, M. Kuusk, M. Lukka, H. Ojamaa (88 D. Kuraksin), M. Miller (46 M. Poom), R. Sappinen (68 S. Reinkort), K. Vassiljev, S. Zenjov, H. Purg, M. Lilander, M. Soomets.
Referee Manfredas Lukjancukas (Lithuania).
Yellow cards Kristensen, Apap, Almeida, J. Grech, Desira, Reinkort.
Two goals inside the first 32 minutes of the match ended Hibernians’ hopes of upsetting Estonian side Flora Tallinn in the first qualifying round of the Champions League.
Hibernians headed into the match with a mountain to climb following a 2-0 first leg defeat in Tallinn last week.
However, on the eve of the match coach Stefano Sanderra said that his players had the belief of trying to overturn the tie.
But on the day, Flora Tallinn again underlined their superiority against last season’s Premier League runners up as inspired by the strong running of Rauno Sappinen and the excellent distribution of skipper Konstantin Vassiljev they scored twice in the first half to seal a comfortable passage to the next round.
Hibernians will now drop to the UEFA Conference League where they are scheduled to face San Marino side Folgore, who also bowed out of this year’s Champions League after losing to Kosovo side Pristhina in the Preliminary Round.
Flora Tallinn, on the other hand, will face the winner of the tie between Bodo Glimt and Legia Warsaw.
Hibernians coach Stefano Sanderra was forced to make do without Brazilian defensive midfielder Raphael who was serving a one-match ban after he was dismissed in the first leg in Tallinn last week.
Wilfried Domoraud was handed his first start for the club since he joined the Paolites last week.
The match was evenly balanced in the opening stages with Flora coming close on 14 minutes Rauno Sappinen broke through on the left and squared the ball to Konstantin Vassiljev, who, however, miscued his shot just in front of goal.
A minute later, Hibs thought they had taken the lead when Jake Grech’s dipping shot somehow blocked on the goal-line by Igonen with the aid of the net but the referee adjudged that the ball didn’t pass the goalline.
It was Flora Tallinn who broke the stalemate on 25 minutes when Sappinen stormed inside the area and backheeled the ball towards Sergei Zenjov who rifled the ball past Nicky Vella.
The visitors threatened again on 28 minutes when Vassiljeve found Henrik Ojamaa but the latter fired over.
The tie was all but over on 32 minutes when Sappinen again used his space to break through the Hibs defence, avoiding the challenge of Leandro Almeida before planting the ball past Vella.
Five minutes into the second half, Jurgen Degabriele tried to reopen the match but his volley from the edge of the area flew over.
Hibsn continued to probe in the Flora Tallinn half in search of a goal that would at least reopen the match but for all their efforts they were struggling to create any danger to Matvei Igonen in the visitors’ goal.
Thirteen minutes from time, Flora almost made it 3-0 when Zenjov sent a fine cross towards substitute Sten Reinkort who incredibly failed to make contact with the ball in front of a gaping goal.
Reinkort made amends for this miss four minutes from time when he beat the Paolites’ offside trap and slid the ball past the onrushing Vella.