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Gżira, Ħamrun advance to the second round of the UEFA Europa Conference League

Floriana eliminated by Petrocub after losing narrowly 1-0 in Moldova.

9.54pm Ħamrun Spartans and Gżira United are the two Maltese teams that have made it into the second round of this competition. They will be joined by the Maltese champions Hibernians who have dropped from the UEFA Champions League.

Andrea Pisanu’s side face Levadia Tallinn of Estonia.

9.53pm All the key numbers from Ħamrun’s comeback victory over Alashkert.

9.52pm ĦAMRUN SPARTANS ARE THROUGH! A spectacular victory by the 2021 Maltese champions after cancelling a two goal deficit to beat Armenia’s Alashkert 4-2 on aggregate.

They will face Velez Mostar of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the second qualifying round.

9.50pm The Spartans are cruising as the match heads into stopapge time as they are aware that their mission is close to be accomplished.

Dodo heading home Ħamrun’s fourth goal against Alashkert.
Jonny fires home Ħamrun’s third goal against Alashkert.

9.40pm Here are the statistics of the game between Atletic Escaldes and Gżira United..

9.39pm Full time in Andorra! Gzira United are through to the next qualifying round of the UEFA Conference League after a 1-0 win against Atletic Escaldes tonight. A goal by Jefferson in extra-time seals the deal after a 1-1 scoreline in the first leg.

Gżira United will now face Serbia’s Radnicki Nis in the second qualifying round.

Jefferson’s goal which handed Gżira United the qualification in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

9.29pm Ħamrun should have been awarded a penalty on 70 minutes when Jonny was upended inside the area but the referee waved play on

9.28pm The Spartans were now on top and six minutes later Jonny made space for himself on the right and hit a rasping drive that was pushed over by Cancarevic.

9.20pm That second goal duly arrived on 61 minutes when from a Camenzuli corner kick, Bjelicic nodded the ball into the path of Guillaumier who headed home.

9.19pm GOAL! It’s all happening at Centenary Stadium as Ħamrun grab a second goal.

Ħamrun Spartans’s players celebrating after finding the net against Alashkert. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

9.16pm Both sides take a breather during halftime in extra-time, Gzira lead 1-0 after a Jefferson goal right before the break which puts them ahead in the tie on aggregate.

9.14pm GOAL! Gzira united finally open proceedings in extra time when a counter finds Jefferson on the run, the latter firing in a cannon of a shot with Ruiz unable to stop.

9.13pm GOAL! The Spartans efforts were rewarded two minutes later when Jonny’s cross was deflected into the path of Prsa who headed past Cancarevic.

9.12pm Ħamrun tried to hit back and on 53 minutes when Corbalan picked Guillaumier in space inside the area but the Malta midfielder headed wide in front of a gaping goal.

9.05pm GOAL! Alashkert ahead thanks to Artak Yedigaryan who capitalised from close-range after receiving from Khurtsidze from the left-hand side. Ħamrun are now down by two goals with 50 minutes on the clock in this second-leg affair.

9.04pm Dodo comes close to put Ħamrun Spartans ahead with a delightful lob just to be denied by inches as the second half is underway at the Centenary Stadium.

9pm And here are some numbers from Floriana’s game in Moldova, produced by SofaScore

8.59pm Here’s Petrocub’s goal which eliminated Floriana from the UEFA Europa Conference League…

8.58pm They do just that in fact as Gzira introduce two new players at the restart, with Zachary Scerri being replaced by Matthew Gauci, and Brooklyn Borg takes his place upfront instead of Maxuell.

8.57pm Atletic have been the more dominant side in the second 45 minutes as Gzira relied on their solid defence to keep them in the tie. However, the Maltese representatives will have fresh legs at their disposal for the extra period to play as the Andorrans have used all of their five substitutions, in contrast to just the one from Darren Abdilla’s side.

8.56pm EXTRA-TIME IN ANDORRA! Both sides unable to separate each other as they finish scoreless at the 90 minutes.

8.54pm It’s all over in Moldova as Floriana bow out from the UEFA Europa Conference League. Petrocub’s winner came in the first half through Iaser Turcan to secure his club’s first ever qualification in any European club competition.

8.51pm Back to Andorra….final substitutions for Atletic as forward threat Ivan Garrido is taken off for David Rodriguez, Victor Alonso replaced by Gemelson Viera

8.45pm Ħamrun on the other hand were continuing to dominate possession but they were rushing too much, with the result that they were throwing away inviting openings as the referee blew for half-time.

8.40pm It’s all or nothing for Floriana with less than 10 minutes left, as coach Atzori has introduced another forward in Augusto Caseres.

8.38pm Another big chance for Ħamrun Spartans on 34 minutes when Dodo sends a fine cross towards Jonny who headed wide.

8.35pm Ħamrun’s best chance arrived on 29 minutes when Prsa showed great skill to meet Camenzuli’s through ball and the Croatian quickly sent a low cross towards Mashike but the Congolese forward was anticipated by his marker.

8.30pm In Andorra, Gżira United created their best chance so far just past the hour. Jefferson dribbles his way past his marker, then another but his shot is not strong enough to beat Atletic’s goalkeeper.

8.25pm Two changes for Floriana on 67 minutes with the inclusions of Adam Magri Overend and Mattia Veselji. Lorenzo Trillo and Matias Garcia are the ones making way for them.

8.22pm Ħamrun Spartans have their first shot on target on 16 minutes when Elvis Mashike turns past his marker and hit a rasping drive that was saved by Cancerevic.

Ħamrun Spartans striker Elvis Mashike (right) eyes the ball against Alashkert. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

8.19pm Atletic d’Escaldes are on top against Gżira United.

Atletic are now restricting Gżira United inside their own half. No threat at goal however as the defence remains strong.

8.15pm Atletic d’Escaldes open the half with a spring in their step, going close with the first chance as a longball into the path of Guillaume Lopez catches him off balance and he fires wide with just Zarkov to beat

8.09pm Ħamrun Spartans threaten after five minutes when Juan Corbalan forces his way inside the area but was blocked by an Alashkert defender when he could have tried a shot or passed to a team-mate. Bright start for the home side.

8.08pm No changes for either Gżira United or Atletic d’Escaldes in Andorra as the match between Atletic Escaldes and Gzira United restarts. Score remains 0-0

8.05pm The second half is underway in Chisinau as Floriana coach Gianluca Atzori has replaced James Scicluna with forward Andrei Ciolacu. The Greens have 45 minutes to at least level terms with Petrocub of Moldova.

8pm Action underway at the Centenary Stadium as Ħamrun Spartans, backed by a sell-out crowd, look to upset Alashkert who were in the UEFA Conference League group stages last season.

Hamrun Spartans as they lined up at the Centenary Stadium. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

7.50pm It’s half-time both in Andorra and Moldova and Gżira United and Floriana have some work to do.

Gżira are level with Atletic d’Escaldes while Floriana must come from behind as they trail Petrocub 1-0 thanks to Turcan’s goal.

7.45pm Gżira United are a bit under the cosh against Atletic d’Escaldes.

Atletic edged closer to scoring after a run on the flanks saw the ball float into the area and Gzira defenders, unable to clear the ball only escaped from danger with a last second block.

Seconds later, goalkeeper Zarkov was put to work again before the end of the half, forced to make a great diving save, pushing away the ball into a corner.

7.40pm Meanwhile at the Centenary Stadium the expectations are high for the Ħamrun Spartans fans ahead of their team’s match against Armenian side Alashkert.

Ħamrun Spartans players warm up ahead of their match against FC Alashkert. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

The match is set to be played in front of a sold out stadium as the Spartans fans look to make their presence felt and push their team to victory on their return to European football after an absence of 30 years.

7.35pm All to do for Floriana in the Moldovan capital. Atzori’s side trail by one goal on aggregate, but there’s still plenty of time for the Maltese side to come back.

7.30pm Petrocub made their pressure count on minute 26. A clever pass by Iosipol who switched the play on the oncoming wingback Sandu whose curling effort was partially saved by Kitanov before poacher Iaser Turcan beat his marker Lorenzo Trillo to the ball which he guided into the net.

7.25pm GOOALL... Bad news from Moldova as Petrocub take the lead through Turcan.

7.17pm Petrocub have their first shot on target on 17 minutes as Marius Iosipol has a shot from the distance but Floriana goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov is on hand to save.

7.14pm It’s important to point out that should both matches finish in a draw, irrespective of how many goals are scored by Floriana and Gżira, both matches will head to extra-ti.me since the away goals’ rule has now been abolished by UEFA.

7.09pm In Andorra, Atletic d’Escaldes fire first after five minutes of play but Ivan Garrido snuffs a chance with only Gzira goalkeeper Darijan Zarkov to beat…. Gżira United survive an early scare.

7.05pm Petrocub have started brightly against Floriana as the Moldovan side have enjoyed much of the possession with Floriana alert to contain the danger and try to catch their opponents with their swift transition.

7pm Action is underway both in Andorra and in Moldova. Can Floriana and Gżira United get the win they need to progress?

6.58pm Ħamrun Spartans coach Branko Nisevic effected one change from the team that lost to Alashkert last week as Croatian midfielder Roko Prsa was handed his full debut since his close-season move to the Premier League side.

The Croatian midfielder was preferred to Ederson Domingos who was dropped among the substitutes.

Otherwise the Spartans remained unchanged with their forward trio of Jonny, Elvis Mashike and Dodo hoping to be more effective than last week’s first leg.

6.55pm No we haven’t forgotten Ħamrun Spartans. The 2021 Malta champions will be in action at the Centenary Stadium at 8pm where they will be bidding to overturn a 1-0 defeat suffered to Alashkert in Armenia last week.

We will provide you team news from this match once we get it.

6.50pm Floriana FC have posted a video of their team gracing the pitch in Moldova ahead of kick-off as the wait is finally over and kick off is just ten minutes away.

6.45pm As for Atletic, Alejandro Ruiz starts in goal instead of Victor Lopez as the Andorran side looks to change things for the return leg against Gzira United.

Victor Maffeo, Alex Sanchez, Javier Morales, Victor Perez, Alex Martinez, Gillaume Lopez are also new additions for today’s leg, the only remaining players from last week’s tie being Aleix Cistero, Hamza Bouharma, Victo Alonso, and Ivan Garrido.

They are set to stick with their 4-3-3 formation.

6.40pm Gzira United will start today’s match in Andorra (kick-off: 7pm) unchanged from their 1-1 draw in the first leg.

Darijan Zarkov, Gabriel Bohrer, Nikolai Muscat, Zachery Scerri, Marcelo Dias, Luis Riascos, Toni Kolega, Marko Cosic, Maxuell, Jefferson, Jackson Mendoza all start this evening as the side looks to take advantage of the open tie.

Darren Abdilla’s clan is set to line up in a 4-3-3 formation, going on the offensive after last week’s more cautious approach of a five-man defence kept the Andorrans in contention.

6.35pm Meanwhile, Floriana’s opponents Petrocub will line up in a 3-5-2 shape like last week. Coach Ivan Tabanov has made just one tweak to his side from last week’s first leg.

Constantin Sandu starts as left-wing back instead of Artem Fedorov. In addition, Maxim Cojoacu and Marius Iosipoi have swapped their roles for this evening’s game as they start as midfielder and forward respectively.

Officiating the Petrocub vs Floriana tie will be Arytom Kuchin from the Kazakhstan FA.

6.30pm Some team news now that just came in.

Floriana coach Gianluca Atzori has made a couple of changes in his starting formation as the Greens take on Petrocub in the second leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League qualifier.

The Italian tactician will hand a starting debut to left back Lorenzo Trillo who takes over from Adam Magri Overend, starter last week. In addition, newly-signed forward James Scicluna from Pieta Hotspurs has been given the nod instead of Andrei Ciolacu.

The Maltese youngster made his Greens’ debut in last Thursday’s first leg as well.

Formation (3-4-2-1): G. Kitanov; C. Rutjens, O. El Hasni, E. Callegari; A. Garzia, J. Arias, M. Garcia (C), L. Trillo; J. Busuttil; K. Reid, J. Scicluna.

6.15pm Welcome to the Times of Malta liveblog for today’s crucial UEFA Conference League matches for our teams Floriana, Gżira United and Ħamrun Spartans.

The three Maltese teams are all with a chance of joining Hibernians in the second qualifying round of the European competition but have some work to do to reach their objective.

Floriana are in Moldova where they take on CB Petrocub. Last week the Greens put on a dominant display but could not find the breakthrough and had to settle for a goalless draw. This time around, last season’s FA Trophy winners must breach Petrocub’s defence if they are to secure a place in the next round of the competition. The match starts at 7pm.

6.25pm Gżira United on their part were left frustrated after a goalless draw in last week’s first leg at the Centenary Stadium against Andorran side Atletic d’Escaldes and will be seeking to record a win that will see the progress to the second qualifying round of the competition.

Below are highlights from last week’s match between Gżira United and Atletic d’Escaldes.

This is the second successive year that the Maroons are facing Andorran opposition. Last season, they needed a tense penalty shoot-out to see of UE Sant Julia in the same phase of the competition.

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