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Solid Floriana denied by Moldova’s Petrocub in first leg

FLORIANA             0

PETROCUB             0

FLORIANA

G. Kitanov; C. Rutjens, O. El Hasni, E. Callegari, A. Garzia (57 L. Trillo), M. Garcia (67 C. Zammit Lonardelli), J. Arias, A. Overend, J. Busuttil (88 N. Cassar), K. Reid, (67 J. Scicluna), A. Ciolacu (67 M. Veselji).

PETROCUB

C. Avram; I. Revenco (81 C. Sandu), I. Jardan, V. Mudrac, S. Platica, A. Fedorov (46 A. Bejan), V. Bogaciuc, I. Turcan (70 C. Cotogoi), M. Iosipol, M. Cojocaru (83 M. Lupan), V. Ambros.

Referee Pavel Orel (Czech Republic FA).

Yellow cards Garzia, Rutjens, Cojocaru, El Hasni, Bejan.

A solid showing by Floriana was not enough to beat Petrocub of Moldova in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

Despite dominating proceedings and creating a few decent opportunities, Floriana could not capitalise as the game ended in a goalless stalemate.

A draw that leaves the qualification affair wide open as both teams will face in the second leg next week, in Moldova.

For this game, Italian coach Atzori deployed Floriana in a 3-4-1-2 with forwards Andrei Ciolacu and Kemar Reid leading the attack.

Malta international Jan Busuttil pulled the strings behind them with his distinguished skillset that continuously posed questions to Petrocub’s defenders.

Matias Garcia, now a Malta player under Devis Mangia, captained the side alongside Jose Arias at the heart of the midfield. Versatile wingback Adam Magri Overend filled Ryan Camenzuli’s void on the right-hand side with Malta U-21’s Alejandro Garzia occupying the left flank.

Christian Rutjnes, Oualed El-Hasni and Emiliano Callegari formed the three-man backline in front of reliable goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov, who was rarely called into action so far.

During the pre-match press conference, Floriana coach Gianluca Atzori made it clear that winning this tie was their objective.

A bold and unusual statement for a Maltese team prior a UEFA club competition assignment but which was reflected in the opening minutes of the game.

In fact, Floriana came out better from the blocks with a pragmatic approach that saw them peg Petrocub back.

Nonetheless, they could not make their pressure count as they had to settle for a goalless stalemate at half-time.

Both Kemar Reid and Alejandro Garzia had their efforts blocked by the Moldovian backline while Jose Arias threatened with a long-range effort that sailed over the bar.

Adam Magri Overend tried his luck with a curling effort but could not beat Petrocub’s goalkeeper.

At the other end of the field, Maxim Cojocaru and Marius Iosipoi knocked on Floriana’s door but Bulgarian goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov was alert to preserve Floriana’s cleansheet.

After the exchange of ends, Floriana came close twice to forge ahead through forward Andrei Ciolacu but the Romanian player could not seize his chances.

Midway into the second half, Floriana coach Atzori handed a debut to three new players in Italian Lorenzo Trillo and Maltese pair Carlo Zammit Lonardelli and James Scicluna.

As the half wore on, chances became more at a premium with neither side finding the net as the game finished all square.

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