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Watch: Ħamrun Spartans beat Levski Sofia in shoot-out to reach Play Off round

Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Hibernians and Ħamrun Spartans can create history in Maltese football if they manage to see off Latvia’s RFS and Levski Sofia in the third qualifying round of the Europa League. Stay with us to follow all the latest updates from the Centenary Stadium and Sofia…

THANK YOU FOR STAYING US… and witness a great night for Maltese football. Good night

10.50pm History is made by Ħamrun Spartans as their players are in jubilant mood for an historic qualification. What a moment to cherish for their fans and Maltese football in general.

The Spartans now await their next opponent when they play the loser of the Europa League tie between Partizan Belgrade and Larnaca, of Cyprus.

10.45pm More drama as Mihajlov moved before the penalty and Fedele has a second chance and he scores to put Ħamrun through.

10.44pm If Matteo Fedele scores Ħamrun are through but Mihajlov saves

10.43pm Krastev sees his shot saved again by Bonello as Ħamrun are closing on qualification.

10.42pm Guillaumier despathes his penalty to put Ħamrun 3-1 ahead.

10.41pm Tsunami is next and Bonello saves – 2-1

10.40pm Luke Montebello steps up and scores – 2-1

10.38pm Petkov is next and scores for Levski to pull level 1-1

10.37pm Vinicius to start shoot-out for Ħamrun Spartans and scores – 1-0.

10.36pm WE’RE HEADING FOR A PENALTY SHOOT-OUT

10.35pm CLOSE… Guillaumier almost won it at the death but he just failed to touch Matteo Fedele’s cross-shot from two metres out.

10.30pm Nisevic throws in another potential penalty taker as Vinicius replaces Ognjen Bjelicic.

10.28pm Ħamrun bring in Matteo Fedele for the final three minutes in place of the impressive Roko Prsa as a penalty shoot-out is looming

10.21pm SO CLOSE…. Substitute Luke Montebello picks Dodo who is denied by the onrushing Mihajlov.

10.17pm Nisevic is forced to make a change as the injured Juan Corbalan is replaced by Luke Montebello.

10.13pm The first half of extra-time is over with Ħamrun Spartans still leading 2-1.

10.10pm Levski’s Felipe is booked by the referee for simulation as he tried to win a penalty for the home side.

10.05pm Levski are starting to pile up the pressure but Ħamrun continue to hold firm.

10pm Early chance for Ħamrun as Elvis Mashike powers his way past his opponent but fires over.

9.59pm Extra-time kicks off as Ħamrun Spartans continue to dare to dream against much stronger opposition in the form of Levski Sofia. The Spartans players have silence the sold-out stadium in Sofia.

9.48pm GOAL!!! CAMENZULI SCORES More drama in Sofia as Ħamrun restore their lead straight from the kick-off when Dodo tees up Camenzuli who fires home as the match looks set for extra-time.

9.46pm GOAL Levski Sofia pull level in stoppage time when Tsunami heads past Bonello from close in.

9.45pm GOAL! Four minutes from time, Ilic added another one for the Latvian side to dash Hibernians’s hopes of making it into the play-off round.

9.42pm GOAL! FK RFS take the lead again through Ilic who managed to beat Kone from the rebound after the Guinean goalkeeper temporarily blocked an Emerson shot.

9.41pm It is Matthew Guillaumier who gives Ħamrun Spartans the lead when Ryan Camenzuli picks the Malta midfielder inside the area and his first attempt is partially blocked by Mihajlov but from the rebound Guillaumier makes no mistake to bring the tie level.

Matthew Guillaumier puts Ħamrun Spartans ahead.

9.40pm ĦAMRUN SPARTANS TAKE THE LEAD.

9.35pm It’s all Hibernians now. Jake Grech comes close to put his team ahead with a brilliant first timer but the FK RFS goalkeeper was alert to divert into corner.

9.30pm GOAL! HIBERNIANS EQUALISE THROUGH JAKE GRECH. The Hibernians midfielder converted from the penalty spot with 20 minutes left.

9.25pm PENALTY FOR HIBERNIANS… Jake Grech’s cross from the right hand side was handed inside the penalty area by an FK RFS player.

9.20pm Hibs continue to push forward and a brilliant curling effort by Dunstan Vella finishes inches wide from levelling terms for the Maltese champions.

9.18pm Huge save by Hibs goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone who denied Kevin Friesenbichler before blocking Cedric Kouadio’s rebound on the goal line.

9.15pm Hibernians’ Ali Diakite struck a long-range shot but could not find the target.

Ħamrun defender Rodrigo Calllegari battles for the ball against Levski Sofia.

9.10pm In Sofia, Ħamrun Spartans started the second half brightly with Jonny a thorn in Levski’s defence but still they had yet to threaten Mihajlov’s goal.

9.04pm Gabriel Artiles has an early chance for Hibernians but the Spanish winger fires the ball into the side-netting.

9.02pm Hibernians will surely feel aggrieved to be behind as the penalty from which RFS scored looked harsh as Hibs defender Llerena had taken the ball cleanly to the RFS forward.

Petr Martes celebrates his goal for RFS against Hibernians. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

9.01pm Second half under way in Sofia with the score still locked at 0-0.

8.48pm The half-time whistle blows and Hibernians are trailing RFS at the Centenary Stadium while Ħamrun Spartans are still holding Levski Sofia to a goalless draw. We will be back for the second half in the hope that we see the Maltese team turn their ties in their favour.

8.45pm RFK RFS take the lead through Petr Matres who buries the penalty into the middle.

8.43pm PENALTY FOR RFS.

8.40pm Ħamrun finally threaten through Juan Corbalan three minutes from the break but his effort finishes over.

8.35pm CLOSE… Levski are close to take the lead on 34 minutes when Kraev nodded the ball into the path of Tsunami who saw his header pushed onto the crossbar by Bonello.

8.29pm Hibernians have a half-chance on 26 minutes but Muritala fails to connect well with the ball and his shot is blocked.

It has been a feisty encounter with the Latvian side dominating proceedings but have not found a way to break down the Maltese champions.

8.25pm Ħamrun Spartans are producing an encouraging display as they are sharing the exchanges with their opponents, giving little time to Levski Sofia to control the match. In fact, Spartans are enjoying a higher percentage of possession but need to convert it into scoring chances.

8.20pm Twenty minutes of play at the Centenary Stadium and so far we have yet to have a shot on target.

Should the match finish in a goalless stalemate, extra-time will be needed as the first leg had ended in a 1-1 draw.

8.15pm Latvian side RFS seem to be holding the upperhand at the Centenary Stadium as the visitors are looking for an early breakthrough.

8.08pm Ħamrun Spartans respond on six minutes when from a Roko Prsa corner kick, Igor Nedeljkovic fires wide.

8.03pm Levski almost score at their first time of asking when Emerson Marcelina fails to clear the ball and Welton Felipe storms through and tees up Ronaldo who incredibly fails to make contact with the ball and the Spartans can clear.

8.01pm KICK-OFF… and we are off both at the Centenary Stadium as well as Sofia, let’s hope that we will have some positive news.

Kateryna Monzul (centre) warms up along her Ukrainian colleagues at the Centenary Stadium. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

7.55pm The match between Hibernians and RFS, of Latvia will be directed by a high-profile referee.

In fact, the game will be controlled by Ukrainian official Kateryna Monzul in an all-female line-up that also includes Maryna Striletska and Svitlana Grushko.

A fortnight ago, Monzul was in charge of the UEFA Euro 2022 women’s final between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium.

Bjorn Kristensen warms up for Hibernians at the Centenary Stadium. Photo: Domenic Aquilina

7.45pm Teams are warming up at the Centenary Stadium as the excitement starts to reach fever pitch among the Hibernians fans who could see their team create history with qualification tonight.

Last season, the Paolites were denied by some controversial refereeing during their tie against another Latvian side FC Riga.

No doubt, the Hibernians players will be determined to make up their disappointment with victory tonight.

7.40pm Hibernians coach Andrea Pisanu was forced to make one change to his starting formation as Zachary Grech was given the nod to start in the absence of Thaylor Aldama who must serve a one-match ban.

Yunusa Muritala spearheads the Hibernians forward line alongside 2022 MFA Player of the Year Jurgen Degabriele.

7.35pm Ħamrun Spartans coach Branko Nisevic made three changes from the team that lost last week’s first leg at the National Stadium.

Argentine defender Rodrigo Callegari replaced Steve Borg who did not make the trip to Sofia for family reasons while Eder started in a three-pronged midfield alongside Roko Prsa and Matthew Guillaumier with Dodo forced to settle with a place on the bench.

Upfront, Igor Nedeljlkovic started ahead of Elvis Mashike who was included among the substitutes.

7.30pm Welcome to our live blog which will provide minute-by-minute coverage of Hibernians and Ħamrun Spartans’ ties in the UEFA Conference League against RFS, of Latvia, and Bulgaria’s Levski Sofia.

Hibernians will fancy their chances after they managed to grind out a 1-1 draw in Riga last week despite playing for the majority of the match with a player less following the dismissal of Thaylor.

Ħamrun, on the other hand, face a much tougher task as they must overturn a 1-0 defeat to Levski Sofia at the National Stadium, following Filip Krastev’s injury-time goal.

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