UEFA Competitions

It was the late Mr. Emanuel Calleja, hard working Secretary of Valletta F.C., who was instrumental in persuading, against heavy odds, the M.F.A. Council, to affiliate the local Football Body with F.I.F.A and U.E.F.A. so that the Malta National Team, and Maltese Clubs be eligible to compete in the various competitions organized by F.I.F.A. and U.E.F.A.

The late-lamented Emanuel Calleja, forsighted then, that Maltese Clubs in particular, have a lot to gain, by participating in European competitive soccer. He argued that local soccer followers will have the opportunity of seeing the cream of European Clubs playing against Maltese Clubs. The visits of illustrious Clubs, such as Manchester United, Celtics, Juventus, Sporting Lisbon, Athletico Madrid, Inter, Ferencvaros, Leeds United, Barcelona (to mention a few) was only made possible because we are competing in these competitions, otherwise the chances of seeing such formidable Clubs in action at the National Stadium, would have been indeed remote.

When Mr. Calleja originated his idea, he was highly criticized, and dubbed with excessive pretentions, but today, all participating Clubs agree that the venture is a success - moneywise. Besides by participating in Europe, apart from showing the Maltese Flag, the local players have an incentive and an ambition to fulfill that of playing in European competitive soccer.

In this respect they make that extra effort so that their Club will be there in the final reckoning, among the Elite Clubs of Europe.
Valletta vs DuklaValletta FC`s baptism in European football was in season 1963/64, against Czechoslovakia giants Dukla Praha in the Champions League.

1963-64 - Dukla Praha 1972-73 - Internazionale

To date (season 2012/2013), Valletta FC participated 36 times in European competitions; 15 editions of the Champions Cup, 7 editions of the Cup Winners', 8 editions of the UEFA Cups, twice in the Intertoto Cup and in 4 editions of the  Europa League.

Throught the years, Valletta FC were polled against several high-profile European clubs such as Italian giants Juventus FC and Internazionale, former English champions Leeds UTD, their Scottish counterpart Glasgow Rangers, Porto and Dinamo Moscow, to mention just a few.

The results obtained by Valletta in European competitions, were however not always so positive. Disastrous results such as 8-0 defeats against Grasshoppers of Switzerland and Honved of Hungary as well as a 10-0 trashing against Glasgow Rangers were amongst the worst defeats experienced. However amidst all this, Valletta also achieved positive results such as minimal 1-0 defeats to Porto and Internazionale as well as victories against HJK Helsinki and Barry Town.

2002-03 - Intertoto Cup vs K.S. Teuta 2000-01 - UEFA Cup vs HNK Rijeka

Without any doubt Valletta's qualification to the first round proper of the Champions cup in season 1999/2000 was the most successful participation ever, eliminating Barry Town of Wales 3-2 on aggregate. In season 2000/2001, Valletta just missed qualification in extra-time losing 8-6 on aggregate to Rijeka in the qualifying round of the UEFA cup.

In season, 2003/2004, Valletta FC participated in European competitions for the 15th consecutive year. In fact no other local club has ever managed to participate for such a long period consecutively including also Birkirkara FC.

In season 2009-10 season, Valletta participated in the Europa League. They eliminated Keflavik 5-2 on aggregate and became the first Maltese team to make it through to the second qualifying round of the Europa League. In the second round they earned a credible 1-1 draw away to St Patrick's Athletic F.C. of Ireland. However in the return leg they were eliminated 10 minutes from time following a solitary goal by Declan O'Brien.

1987-88 - UEFA Cup vs Juventus 2009-10 - Europa League vs St Patrick's Athletic

Season 2010-11, Valletta participated again in the Europa League, they entered the competition in the second round against K.S. Ruch Chorzow from Poland. In the home leg they earned a 1-1 result and in the away leg the match ended goal less, however the Citizens were eliminated by the away goal.

Season 2011-2012, Champions Valletta FC were drawn against Tre Fiori FC of San Marino in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.
Valletta registered an emphatic 3-0 win away from home in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round.  Valletta sealed their passage to the second qualifying round of the Champions League after beating Tre Fiori 2-1 for a 5-1 aggregate win.

During the second qualifying round Valletta met Lithuanian side Ekranas. In the home leg they lost 3-2 and and in the away Ekranas edged the Malta champions 1-0 to progress to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League 4-2 on aggregate.

2010-11 - K.S. Ruch Chorzow 2011-12 - FK Ekranas
 

Season 2012-2013

Season 2012-2013, Champions Valletta FC were drawn against FC Lusitans of Andorra in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.

Valletta managed to set a new record for the highest victory ever achieved by a Maltese team in European competitions as they registered an 8-0 result in the first leg of their Champions League first qualifying round. The Maltese champions blew their dismal opponents apart, racing into a five-goal lead inside the opening 22 minutes.

During the away leg, Valletta registered a slender victory to confirm their place in the second qualifying round.

During the second qualifying round Valletta met FK Partizan of Belgrade. In the home leg Valletta’s hopes of reaching the next stage of the Champions League were dashed as the Citizens crashed to a 4-1 defeat. Partizan proved too strong for Valletta, translating their early superiority into three first-half goals which all but sealed their win.

During the away match, two goals from Nemanja Tomic helped Partizan Belgrade win the match 3-1. Despite falling behind after 10 minutes, the Citizens showed great character to get back into the match when Michael Mifsud put them level early in the second half. Partizan’s superiority came to the fore late on as they netted two quick goals to seal a 3-1 win and progress to the next round 7-2 on aggregate.

2012-13 - FC Lusitans 2012-13 - FK Partizan
 

Season 2013-2014 - vs La Fiorita

Season 2013-2014, Valletta FC were drawn against SP La Fiorita of San Marino in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League.

During the away leg, Valletta managed to beat La Fiorita 3-0 in Serravalle. It was a solid display from Mark Miller’s men who after a slow start gradually took control of proceedings and were rarely troubled by the San Marino side.

Denni scored at either side of half- time of the first leg while Ian Zammit came off the bench to add a late third goal.

The match was evenly balanced in the opening stages, but the Citizens gradually got more into the picture and deservedly took the lead on the half hour.

La Fiorita defender Federico Rinaldi handled the ball inside his area in an attempt to anticipate Ian Azzopardi and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.

From the resultant penalty, Denni beat Simone Montanari with a low drive.

On the restart, Miller switched to a five-man midfield when he introduced Shaun Bajada for defender Jonathan Caruana.

The move yielded instant dividends as Valletta doubled their lead five minutes into the second half.

Dyson Falzon’s throughball released Denni who showed great footwork before beating Montanari.

Zammit came on for Denni on 85 minutes but he still found time to add a third in stoppage time.

During the home leg, Valletta registered a slender victory to confirm their place in the second qualifying round with an aggregate score of 4-0.

Valletta's first half ended goalless despite Valletta creating a host of scoring chances. During the dying minutes of the second half, the Citizens were awarded a penalty after Gianluca Bollini pushed substitute Ian Zammit in the box. Zammit picked himself up to drive his shot past Montanari from the spot.

2013-14 - SP La Fiorita 2013-14 - SP La Fiorita
 

Season 2013-2014 - vs FC Minsk

In the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, Valletta were drawn against FC Minks of Belarus. The Citizens earlier eliminated San Marino's La Fiorita with an aggregate score of 4-0.

During the home leg were held to a 1-1 result by Belarusian team FC Minsk. The match was a balanced affair with FC Minsk enjoying a physical edge thanks to their superior match fitness but Valletta produced a gallant display throughout.

After five minutes FC Minsk opened the score, Hamza Barry fell Dmitry Gorbushin outside the box and, from the ensuing free-kick, Aliaksandr Sachyuka's shot sailed into the net at the near post after Valletta goalkeeper Pietro Marino appeared to have been wrong-footed by a feint from an FC Minsk player.

FC Minsk created another chance when Raman Behunov stormed into the box from the left to collect Aliaksei Bialevich's curling cross but his shot was wide. As half-time approach, Valletta intensified their pressure. A cross by Ryan Fenech was blocked by the FC Minsk goalkeeper who easily out jumped Shaun Bajada but on the stroke of half-time, Valletta levelled matters.

A mistake by Aliaksandr Sachyuka prove costly as his mishit backpass was intercepted by the persistent Ryan Fenech who drove home from close range.

Thirteen minutes into the second half, Miller withdrew Spanish striker Arnal Conde, was making his first appearance for Valletta, with Nigerian James Aud-Gustine Obaje coming in.

Three minutes past the hour, Fenech's long-range drive that was stopped by the FC Minsk goalkeeper. There was an even bigger scare for Valletta when Raman Vasiliuk's diagonal effort came off the base of a post. Still, Valletta refused to lie down. Fenech went close with a powerful shot that flew just wide of a post. With nine minutes remaining, Marino denied FC Minsk when touching Rozhok's grounder around the near post.

In the dying stages, Ian Zammit, who had just replaced Fenech, curled his shot wide of the far post after receiving from Obaje.

In the second leg Valletta’s bid to progress to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League came to an end as they were eliminated from the competition by FC Minsk 3-1 on aggregate.

Valletta were eliminated from the UEFA Europa League after suffering a 2-0 defeat during the away leg.

Coach Mark Miller opted to start with Nigerian striker Aud-Gustine James Obaje in attack and Ian Azzopardi in defence, leaving Shaun Bajada out of the starting line-up.

After a goalless first half, the hosts managed to take the lead eight minutes after the break thanks to Roman Vasilyuk whose effort beat goalkeeper Pietro Marino.

On the hour, FC Minsk doubled the score through Vital Kibuk. A blow for Valletta who at this point needed two goals to secure qualification.

Miller included new signing Romulo Marcos Antoneli and Ian Zammit in the Citizens; bid to get back in the game but this was not enough for them to reduce the gap.
This was the first defeat for Valletta in this Europa League campaign after the two wins over SP La Fiorita and the 1-1 draw with FC Minsk in the first
 

2013-14 - FC Minsk 2013-14 - FC Minsk
 

Season 2014-2015 - vs Qarabag FK
 

Season 2014-2015, Valletta FC were drawn against Qarabag FK of Azerbaijan in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.
 
An early goal was enough for Qarabag to grind out a 1-0 victory over Valletta at the National Stadium.
 
Qarabag, the 2013/14 Azerbaijan champions, had been regarded as favourites to win after spending millions to assemble their current squad but Valletta fought bravely. They not only managed to limit the damage to one goal but also created some encouraging attacks. 
 
Goalkeeper Nicky Vella was the Citizens hero,  saving a penalty in the final stages after Valletta had been reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Ryan Camilleri.
 
Qarabag  managed to take the lead on 17 minutes when Cicero Martinaldo Da Silva's brilliant free-kick had the better of the startled Nicky Vella.
 
Valletta should have made it 1-1 on 27 minutes when Portuguese midfielder Hugo Faria lifted an excellent through-ball to Lateef Elford-Alliyu who turned well but his rising drive from inside the box sailed high.
 
During the away leg at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium Valletta had a tough task on their hands to try and overturn the tie in their favour following the 1-0 defeat at the National Stadium.
 
After 19 minutes, the Citizens were reduced to ten when Jonathan Caruana was harshly dismissed for a foul on Reynaldo. 
 
Qarabag took the lead on the 15th minute when Reynaldo received the ball on the edge of the area before showing great footwork to move past Luke Dimech and place the ball behind goalkeeper Nicky Vella.
 
With a man less, Valletta faced a tall order but they still showed good defensive organisation. 
 
However Valletta threatened four minutes from the break when a shot from the distance by Abdelkerim Nafti was blocked by goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic. 48 minutes Qarabag doubled the score,  Vuqar Nadirov, released Cicero who beat Vella with a low drive. The Azeri added a third on 57 minutes when Ilgar Gurbanov avoided the onrushing Vella before teeing up Danilo Dias who place the ball into an empty net. 
 
Ten minutes from the end, Qarabag wrapped up the win when Leroy George made it 4-0 at the end of a quick break. Six minutes from time, Ryan Fenech was dismissed for a second yellow card.

2014-15 vs Qarabag FK
 
2014-15 vs Qarabag FK

Season 2015-2016 - vs Newtown AFC 
 

Season 2015-2016, Valletta FC were drawn against Newtown AFC of Wales in Europa League first qualifying round.
 
Valletta lost the away leg with a goal into stoppage time. The Citizens were down to ten men in the last five minutes but on course to a positive result after substitute Jhonnattann had cancelled out Luke Boundford’s opener for the home side.
 
However, Valletta, who had Ian Azzopardi dismissed for a double booking, failed to thwart Newtown’s late rally and the Welshmen will now take a slight lead ahead of next week’s second leg at the Hibs Stadium.
 
Despite the upset, City will still fancy their chances of reaching the next round, having grabbed a crucial away goal.
 
Valletta coach Paul Zammit handed a debut to new signings Juan Cruz Gill, Maxim Focsa, Uchenna Umeh and Claudio Pani while fellow newcomers Jhonnattann and Thierry Fidjeu had to settle for a place on the bench.
 
Newtown were off to a blistering start and inside the opening 20 minutes Valletta goalkeeper Nicky Vella had to be alert to keep out efforts from Oswell and Matty Owen.
 
The visitors’ response came on 16 minutes but Abdelkarim Nafti fired wide.
 
As the minutes ticked by, Valletta started coming more into the picture and Pani went close on 25 minutes but his effort flashed wide.
 
Umeh was then denied by a fine save from goalkeeper David Jones.
 
But it was Newtown who took the lead on 40 minutes. An Owen delivery from a free-kick was met by Boundford who hit past goalkeeper Vella.
 
Valletta started the second side on the offensive. Nafti fired just wide from a free-kick and soon after Umeh had an even better chance but hit badly from routine distance.
 
Paul Zammit Zammit withdrew Luke Montebello and Umeh and introduced Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza and Jhonnattann as City looked to step up the pressure.
 
However, it was the home side who almost made it 2-0 on 67 minutes when Owen’s shot came off the woodwork.
 
After that let off, Valletta continued to push forward and drew level on 74 minutes when Nafti released Jhonnattann who placed his shot beyond’s Jones’s reach.
 
Five minutes from time, Valletta were reduced to ten men when captain Azzopardi committed a second bookable offence and was dismissed.
 
 

2015-16 vs Newtown AFC 2015-16 vs Newtown AFC
   
With a man more on the pitch, Newtown pushed forward in search of a winner and they struck gold in stoppage time when Oswell was first to Craig Williams’s pass to beat Vella from close in.

During the home leg, Valletta were trailing 2-1 from the away leg, the Citizens produced a brave performance, dominating possession for long stretches but Jason Oswell's early strike and the second-half dismissal of Ryan Camilleri left them with too much to do.
 
The score was tied at 1-1 when Camilleri saw red but Newtown AFC, who showed little skill but plenty of grit, struck a late winner through Matthew Owen who, seconds earlier, had his seen his penalty saved by Valletta goalkeeper Nicky Vella.
 
Jhonnattann came close to giving Valletta an early lead but his drive, from debutant Thierry Tazemeta's assist, was turned away by David Jones, the Newtown goalkeeper.
 
Newtown struck three minutes later, Jason Oswell hitting home at the far post after Valletta had failed to cut out a cross from the right.
 
The Whites created a good chance after 16 minutes as Abdelkarim Nafti's cross from a right-wing corner was met by Argentine defender Juan Cruz Gill whose firm header sailed just over the crossbar.
 
Valletta were dominating possession, Jhonnattann having a dangerous grounder deflected away for a corner, but Newtown remained dangerous on the counter.
 
There was another scare for the Welsh side as, from Nafti's free-kick, Cruz Gill's header was fumbled by Jones but the defence cleared.
 
Three minutes past the half-hour, Nafti's free-kick flew wide of the near post. In a rare attack, Newtown threatened to extend their lead. Oswell, once again, used his strength and eye for goal to move into a dangerous position but his  effort was blocked by Italian midfielder Claudio Pani. From the ensuing melee, Luke Boundford hit the post.
 
On the stoke of half-time, Nafti dribbled his way into the box from the left but his grounder was blocked by the defence.
 
Valletta equalised within 23 seconds of the start of the second half. Advancing through the middle, Briffa switched the ball to the right where Jhonnattann supplied a low cross into the six-yard box and Tazemeta stabbed the ball home.
 
Valletta sought to keep up the pressure, forcing two corners. From the first, Nafti's cross was fisted away by Jones.
 
The Citizens' hopes suffered a setback 16 minutes from time when Ryan Camilleri was sent off after his extended foot caught Shane Sutton as the Valletta right-back ran into the Newtown AFC box to try and reach Briffa's pass.
 
Valletta's evening looked to have taken a turn for the worse when as Hungarian referee Mihaly Fabian awarded Newtown a penalty after Cruz Gill was adjudged to have brought down Oswell in the box.
Owen's low drive from the spot was kept out by Vella, much to the delight of the City fans, but the danger refused to go away.
 
From the ensuing action, Owen made amends as his low strike from the edge of the box rolled into the low corner of the net.
 
Matthew Cook, who had come on in the second half, was dismissed after earning a second booking for provoking the Valletta players.

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