VELEZ MOSTAR 0
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 1
S. Bogdanovic, A. Dejanovic, S. Zeljkovic, F. Ikic, A. Pavic (58 D. Panteljic), D. Hasanovic (58 J. Blagojevic), S. Radovac, E. Halilovic, M. Cosic, N. Haskic, N. Andusic (80 A. Dzankovic).
H. Bonello, O. Bjelicic, E. Marcelina, S. Borg, R. Camenzuli, M. Guillaumier, R. Prsa, J. Corbalan, Dodo (85 Ederson), E. Mashike (73 I. Nedeljkovic), Jonny (63 M. Souwe).
Referee: Andrew Davey (Northern Ireland)
Yellow cards: Cosic, Haskic.
Ħamrun Spartans’ impressive run in the UEFA Conference League continued on Thursday night when they stunned Bosnia Herzegovina giants Velez Mostar 1-0 to take a significant advantage ahead of next week’s second leg.
Matthew Guillauimier was the Ħamrun Spartans’ hero as the Malta midfielder tucked home the all-important goal after 30 minutes of play to put the Spartans within sight of a historic qualification to the third qualifying round of UEFA’s club competition.
It was a marvellous performance from the Spartans who looked in control right from the outset as they bossed proceedings and had they been more precise in the final third could have returned home with a bigger margin.
But no doubt, the Reds will be pleased with their work as they will hope to finish the job in front of their numerous fans in next week’s second leg at the Centenary Stadium.
Ħamrun Spartans coach Branko Nisevic has kept faith with the same players that starred in their 4-1 win over Alashkert last week with their forward line formed by Dodo, Jonny and Elvis Mashike.
New signing, Moussa Souwe, was included among the substitutes.
Ħamrun Spartans made a bright start and inside the first minute Matthew Guillaumier found Dodo in space and the Cape Verde forward saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Slavisa Bogdanovic.
The home side responded immediately with Ħamrun goalkeeper Henry Bonello showing great reflexes to keep out Dino Hasanovic’s shot from the edge of the area.
Ħamrun were taking a positive approach to the game as they were trying to keep hold of the ball for long spells to keep control into proceedings and trying to surprise their opponents with quick forays from their forward trio.
Velez Mostar were looking dangerous in their quick transitions. On 16 minutes, Nermin Haskic sped clear but his angled drive failed to hit the target.
Velez Mostar were regaled with an open chance on 25 minutes when Steve Borg’s back header finished into the path of Hasanovic but his shot was blocked by Bonello.
However, it was Ħamrun who broke the stalemate on the half-hour mark.
The Spartans won a free-kick and Dodo’s delivery was met by Elvis Mashike with goalkeeper Bogdanovic pushing the ball onto the upright and in came Matthew Guillaumier who tapped home.
Here, Velez tried to step up their tempo but the Spartans managed to continue to control the proceedings much to the frustration of the home fans.
On 57 minutes Camenzuli ran into space on the left and his cross was met by Jonny who headed wide.
Just past the hour, Nisevic withdrew the energetic Jonny and roped in Souwe who was making his debut.
Velez finally threatened on 70 minutes when Andjusic fired wired from a central position.
At the other end, Souwe sped clear on the right and opted to shoot from the edge of the area but Bogdanovic was on hand to block.
As expected in the closing stages Velez Mostar were starting to pile up the pressure but the Spartans continued to defend well.
Bonello came to the Spartans’ rescue on 83 minutes when he dived to his left to push away Panteljic’s shot.
The Ħamrun Spartans no.1 did it again in stoppage time when he kept out Haskic’s shot as the Maltese side celebrated another stunning win in Europe this season.