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Watch: Gzira through to third round of Conference League qualifiers after shootout drama

RADNICKI NIS 3

Tolordava 14

Petrov 77

Pejovic 102 pen.

GZIRA UNITED               3

Jefferson 15, 90

Maxuell 117

(Gzira United win 3-1 on pens.)

RADNICKI NIS F. Dujmovic, N. Aksentijevic, A. Tolordava, N. Jovicic, M. Goakou (91 N. Stajic), L. Arsic (62 A. Mesarovic), A. Pejovic, S. Dimic (62 R. Michibuchi), L. Jovanovic (90+9 O. Ajdar), N. Stulic (62 B. Tomic), S. Petrov.

GZIRA UNITED D. Zarkov, L. Tabone (89 B. Borg), M. Cosic, G. Bohrer Mentz, M. Dias, R. Correa, N. Muscat (90 N. Muscat), Z. Scerri (90 E. Mbong, A. Borg 120), Jefferson, T. Kolega (66 Maxuell), C. Gauci (66 J. Mendoza).

Referee Andrei Chivulete

Yellow cards Correa, Jovicic, Muscat, Gakou, Pejovic, Gauci, Jefferson, Petrov, Cosic, Pisani, Bohrer

Gzira United progressed into the third round of UEFA Conference League qualifiers on Thursday after a dramatic 3-3 finish in Nis needed a penalty shootout against Radnicki NIS. They face Austrian side Wolfsberger next.

It was the home team that looked the strongest throughout the match, with Gzira playing catch up no less than three times – Jefferson cancelling Anton Tolordava’s opener, the Brazilian doing it again 10 minutes into injury time for extra time, and Maxuell sending the tie to penalties after an Aleksandar Pejovic spotkick in extra time.

Live: Hibernians, Gżira United, Ħamrun Spartans through in historic night for Maltese football

Goalscorer from the first leg Maxuell Maia was surprisingly left out of the starting 11, as was Luis Riascos in coach Abdilla’s largely unchanged lineup. Radnicki on the other hand, made wholesale changes as goalkeeper Filip Dujmovic, Nemanja Jovicic, Maka Gakou, and Stefan Dimic all got the nod after having started on the bench last week.

Gzira started on the right foot with a Nikolai Muscat shot from the edge of the area which was saved by Dujmovic. However, it was the Serbian side that went ahead after 14 minutes when a corner was met by Anton Tolordava who fired in first-time.

The Serbians’ celebrations were cut short when from the restart, Gzira equalised. A Gabriel Bohrer Mentz longball right after kick-off found Jefferson on the run, who escaped his marker right inside the area, and similarly to his goal against Atletic Escaldes in the previous round, he fired into the top corner to the disappointment of the Radnicki players.

On 39 minutes, Radnicki’s Nikola Stulic went close to scoring, but his header sailed over the bar. Captain Pejovic had another shot go wide three minutes later as Radnicki took over possession, putting pressure on Gzira.

After the break, Radnicki continued where they left off with Petrov having the first three consecutive shots, forcing Zarkov into action right after the restart.

Toni Kolega finally replied for Gzira but his shot went wide in the 53rd minute.

Radnicki effected a triple substitution in the 62nd minute as Nikola Stulic is replaced by Branislav Tomic. Ryohei Michibuchi steps in for Stefan Dimic and Aleksandar Mesarovic replaces Lazar Arsic.

Gzira countered with a double substitution of their own this time in the 66th minute as Gauci was taken off for Jackson Mendoza and Maxuell finally made his cameo to replace Kolega.

Maxuell looked to make an instant impact and within two minutes, taking his first shot which missed the target, but Radnicki nearly made them pay right after, on 69 minutes, after Jovanovic hit a shot that was pushed away for a corner by Zarkov.

They did eventually get their goal after 77 minutes, when after Zarkov saved another Jovanovic effort, Petrov made no mistake in putting the ball into the net.

From then on, it was a struggle that Gzira looked unable to overcome after a dominant showing from Radnicki in front of their home fans. But it was Jefferson who proved to be the hero yet again with a goal 10 minutes into injury time to equalise again and send the game to extra time.

Radnicki were back in front in the first half of extra time when a Bohrer foul inside the area gave the home side a penalty on 102 minutes which Aleksandar Pejovic duly converted.

Jefferson looked hungry for a hattrick, meeting a cross into the area in the final three minutes of extra time but his header hits the upright. However, Maxuell found himself again on the scoresheet as Gzira equalised again soon after.

Penalties ensued with Radnicki’s Pejovic taking the first kick. However, he could not replicate his earlier effort as the ball smacked the upright. Maxuell started for Gzira, making no mistake to put them up ahead. Michibuchi missed another and Zarkov saved Petrov’s shot to send Gzira through.

PENALTY SEQUENCE

RADNICKI NIS 1 Pejovic (missed), 3 Mesarovic, 5 Michibuchi (missed), 7 Petrov (missed)

GZIRA UNITED 2 Maxuell, 4 Mendoza, 6 Pisani

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