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Solid Gżira United deny Austria’s Wolfsberger AC in first leg

Photo: Gzira United FC

WOLFSBERGER AC         0

GŻIRA UNITED                 0

WOLFSBERGER AC

H. Bonmann; D. Baumgartner, S. Piesinger (73 N. Veratschnig), L. Lochosvhili, M. Anzolin (46 J. Scherzer), M. Leitgeb, K. Kerschbaumer, A. Jasic, T. Ballo (46 M. Taferner), T. Rocher (77 D. Vizinger), T. Baribo.

GŻIRA UNITED

D. Zarkov; M, Cosic, L. Tabone, G. Mentz, M. Dias, L. Riascos, N. Muscat, Z. Scerri (90 C. Gauci), R. Correa, Jefferson (84 T. Kolega), Maxuell (69 J. Mendoza).

Referee Urs Schnyder (Switzerland FA).

Yellow cards Baumgartner, Piesinger, Dias.

Gżira United’s run in the UEFA Europa Conference League continues to produce positive results after the Maroons managed to hold Austria’s Wolfsberger AC to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the third qualifying round.

A result that leaves the qualification wide open with Gżira now set to host the Bundesliga side in next week’s second leg.

The winner between Molde of Norway and Kisvarda of Hungary will be face whoever qualifies from this tie.

Darren Abdilla’s team staged an organised display which restricted Wolfsberger to very few chances throughout the game.

Whenever Gżira’s backline was breached, goalkeeper Darijan Zarkov was up to the task to preserve the cleansheet against a more-quoted side.

Wolfsberger, who played twice in the Europa League group stages in recent years, dominated proceedings but for all their possession, they could not capitalise on it.

Adis Jasic tried to threaten Gżira United with a lobbed header but it was not enough to beat Zarkov after 10 minutes.

Moments later, Gabriel Bohrer tried his luck with a first timer from the edge of the area which was deflected into corner.

Zarkov came to Gżira’s rescue when Thierno Ballo hit a low drive with the Croatian goalkeeper managing to put his hands onto it.

Despite Wolfsberger having more European experience, Gżira did not look fazed and their brilliang press upfront allowed them to have spells inside Wolfsberger’s defensive half.

Maxuell’s speed was posing a lot of awkward questions to Wolfsberger’s backline with two defenders – Dominik Baumgartner and Simon Piesinger – being forced to foul him and be cautioned in the early stages of the game.

Wolfsberger missed the opportunity to capitalise on a decent chance when Konstantin Kerschbaumer connected with a cut back but his shot went straight into Zarkov before Ballo had a long-range effort which sailed wide.

The hosts tried to put more pressure on the Maroons with Kerschbaumer hitting another strike but failing to hit the target.

Late in the first-half, Wolfsberger’s forward Baribo struck a curling effort only to be denied by Zarkov.

After the change of ends, Wolfsberger’s coach Robin Dutt made two changes as the hosts were looking to up their ante in search of a lead.

On the other hand, Gżira were looking to disrupt their high tempo to preserve the 0-0 draw for as long as possible.

Baribo forced Zarkov into a finger-tip save when the Israeli striker hit a volley but could not put the home side ahead.

Gżira’s first chance of the second half was produced by Maxuell who beat his marker with an impressive run before firing straight into Wolfsberger’s goalkeeper.

Zarkov denied Baribo from close-range when the Wolfsberger forward met a cross with his header but once again the Croatian goalkeeper prevailed.

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