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.

Season 2016-2017 - vs B36 FC Torshavn

Season 2016-2017, Valletta FC were drawn against B36 FC Torshavn of Faroe Islands in UEFA Champions League first qualifying round.
 
Valletta dominated for long stretches but B36 were solid at the back, conceding only once when Falcone pounced after goalkeeper Trygvi Askham had saved Jhonnattann's drive. 
 
It was a good performance from Valletta against a team that have already played 16 league games but the Whites will have rued their inability to translate their possession into more goals. 
 
B36 only switched to attack after going behind but were denied by Valletta goalkeeper Henry Bonello who had an excellent game. Valletta created the better chances in the first half as B36 adopted a prudent strategy. 
 
Argentine striker Federico Falcone hit a poor cross-shot after being released by Jhonnattann who had broken on the counter. Leandro Aguirre, who was making his debut for Valletta, them produced a strong drive which sailed over the bar. 
 
It was all Valletta in these opening stages. A neat one-two between Aguirre and Jhonnattann saw Brazilian dash into the box from the left but his grounder, from an inviting position, was wide. 
 
Romeo Romao collected the loose ball before crossing into the six-yard box but Llywelyn Cremona hit wide.
 
Valletta pushed forward during the second half. They were unlucky not to forge ahead as Jhonnattann's cross created a goalmouth melee and Claudio Pani's shot was touched on by Cremona from close range but the ball came off a B36 defenders. 
 
20 minutes from time, Valletta opened the scoring. Jhonnattann raced into the box from the left before hitting a low shot that was partially saved by the B36 goalkeeper but Falcone fired home from the rebound.  
 
B36 went close on 76 minutes when Hogni Eysturoy's run into the box from the left before firing a low shot that Bonello failed to hold. A host of pink shirts tried to swoop on the loose ball but Azzopardi stood firm to repel the danger. 
 
Five minutes from time, Valletta had a great opportunity to increase their lead. Aguirre's corner was met by Cruz Gill with the ball sailing towards Santiago Malano whose goalbound header was cleared off the line. 

2016-17 vs B36 FC Torshavn 2016-17 vs B36 FC Torshavn

During the second leg, Valletta moved to the second qualifying round of the Champions League despite losing the second leg to B36 Torshavn 2-1 in the Faroe Islands
 
Federico Falcone’s goal again proved vital for the Citizens as they progressed to the next round on the away goals’ rule after the tie finished all-square at two-all.
 
The Citizens started brightly against B36 and the woodwork denied the visitors an opener early on when Jhonnattann saw his effort coming off the bar.
 
Two minutes later, Falcone came agonisingly close to an opener but his drive was somehow kept out by B36 goalkeeper Trugvi Askham.
 
However, it was the hosts who drew first blood when in their first serious foray at the Valletta goal, Hanus Thorleifsson hit home after being set up by Hogni Eysturoy.
 
Valletta refused to panic and drew level midway through the half when Falcone was on hand to hit the ball home following a pass by Romeo Romau.
 
B36 twice went close to restoring their lead before the break but efforts by Thorleiffson and Jakub Borg were kept out by Henry Bonello, the Valletta goalkeeper.
 
The match remained evenly poised on the restart with Santiago Malano forcing Askham into a fine save on 63 minutes. But three minutes later B36 went 2-1 up when Hannes Agnarsson scored following another Eysturoy assist.
 
Valletta weathered the storm and ventured forward on counter break. However, the woodwork came to B36’s rescue a second time when Jhonnattann’s effort again crashed against the bar.
 
Eight minutes from time, the well-positioned Bonello came to Valletta’s rescue when he stopped an effort by substitute Sebastian Pingel.
 
B36 stepped up the pressure in search of a third goal that would have them through but Valletta defended stoutly to book their place in the next round.

Season 2016-2017 - vs Red Star Belgrade

In the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, Valletta were drawn against Red Star Belgrade of Serbia. The Citizens earlier eliminated B36 FC Torshavn from Faroe Islands with an aggregate score of 3-2.
 

A gutsy performance from Valletta was not enough to earn them a positive result in the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round match against Red Star Belgrade as the Serbian outfit came back from a goal down to win 2-1.
 
While the defeat was hard to take for Valletta, who had taken an early lead through Federico Falcone, they can still take a lot of encouragement from a bold showing against a team who, on paper, are superior to the Maltese champions.
 
A goal down, Red Star were always going to make a reaction in the second half but Falcone's exit due to injury before half-time made things easier for the visitors as Valletta lost their attacking pillar.
 
The hosts were off to a brisk start, pushing forward when in possession without losing their tactical shape.
 
Valletta's early efforts produced an early breakthrough on 15 minutes to the delight of their vocal fans.
 
And what a goal it was Federico Falcone, latching on to a great cross from fellow Argentine Leandro Aguirre, rifled a powerful volley into the far corner of the net.
 
Valletta's aggressive pressing was making it difficult for Red Star to build any sort of momentum.
 
Three minutes past the half-hour, Valletta thought they had doubled their lead when Jhonnattann picked out Falcone who advanced before hitting a curling effort home but the Argentine was flagged offside in what looked like a dubious decision by the assistant referee.
 
Falcone was forced to leave the field late in the first half after picking up an injury. He was replaced by Santiago Malano.
 
Two minutes into the second half, Valletta had a great chance to extend their advantage/ Pani's through-ball found Malano in ample space after the Argentine had sprung open Red Star's offside ploy. Malano galloped forward but he took a heavy touch which enabled Damir Kahriman to recoup ground and shackle the Argentine before play was stopped for a dubious foul on the Red Star goalkeeper.
 

2016-17 vs Red Star Belgrade 2016-17 vs Red Star Belgrade
 
Katai was Red Star's most dangerous player with his swift incursions down the left. The Serbia winger had a low shot saved by Henry Bonello while Guelor Kanga fired wide from outside the box.
 
Red Star increased their pressure. Argentine Pablo Mouche ran himself into a shooting position inside the box before lifting a menacing shot that Bonello did well to push over the bar.
 
There was another chance for Red Star as Katai nodded over from Mouche's cross.
 
In a City counter-attack, Jhonnattann pushed forward on the right but his powerful strike was beaten away by Kahriman.
 
From the prospect of doubling their lead, Valletta conceded an equaliser on 65 minutes. Storming into the box from the right, Katai held off Ian Azzopardi and chipped the ball over Bonello from an acute angle.
 
Red Star went ahead 16 minutes from time. Katai was the provider as his low cross from the left was tucked home by substitute Predrag Sikimic.
 
During the away leg, the Malta champions left the Arena Stadium with a few regrets after a very positive showing in an entertaining encounter with action at both ends of the field.
 
The Citizens started brightly and soon forged ahead.
 
From a corner, Caruana was first to Jhonnattann’s delivery and the Malta defender headed firmly past Red Star goalkeeper Damir Kahriman.
 
The home team looked rattled and on 22 minutes Jhonnattann should have doubled Valletta’s lead.
In a quick foray, the Brazilian forward sped clear and with only Kahriman to beat he sent his effort just wide of the upright.
 
Red Star finally threatened on 25 minutes when Hugo Viera profited from lack of communication between Caruana and Roderick Briffa but his effort was well saved by Bartolo.
 
The hosts drew level on the half hour. Guelor Kanga fed Mitchell Donald on the edge of the area and the Dutch midfielder hit a rasping drive that gave Bartolo no chance.
 
Red Star grew in stature and three minutes later Hugo Ibanez almost made it 2-1 but his deft flick from routine distance forced a smart save from the Valletta goalkeeper.
 
Eleven minutes into the second half, Mifsud did well to turn past two defenders but his low shot was parried away by Kahriman.
 
Red Star were denied by the woodwork on 59 minutes. They were awarded a central free-kick and Aleksandar Katai’s curling drive came off the upright and from the rebound Viera fired wide.
 
Jhonnattann’s pace was proving a handful for the Red Star defenders and on 68 minutes he embarked on a surging run that took him past two defenders but his grounder flashed wide.
 
Valletta paid dearly for this miss as seven minutes later Red Star went 2-1 up.
 
Substitute Slavoljub Srnic, who had just replaced Pablo Mouche, put Katai clear and the skipper kept his cool to slid the ball past Bartolo.
 
The Citizens soon responded and three minutes later Santiago Malano picked Mifsud who showed great skill to turn past Zoran Rendulic but the forward was denied by the onrushing Kahriman.
 
Red Star almost struck a third goal when Ibanez sped clear but was thwarted by the alert Bartolo.
 
The Valletta goalkeeper again distinguished himself in stoppage time when he pushed away Katai’s shot.


Season 2017-2018 vs Folgore
 
Season 2017-2018, Valletta FC were drawn against Folgore of San Marino in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round.

 
Valletta opened their Europa League campaign after seeing off Folgore, by two clear goals in the opening leg of the first qualifying round at the Hibs Stadium.
 
Zoran Popovic named his strongest formation available with goalkeeper Henry Bonello and defender Joseph Zerafa, Juan Cruz Gill was deployed in a defensive midfield role alongside Claudio Pani.
 
Max Velasco was the team’s striker, supported from the flanks by international striker Michael Mifsud and Romeo Romao.
 
Valletta dominated proceedings but their poor distribution of the ball hampered their chances of creating any danger to the Folgore goal.
 
Valletta had to wait until the 23rd minute to create their first scoring opportunity.
 
Claudio Pani’s long pass found Michael Mifsud who beat the offside trap but the Malta striker was denied by the onrushing Luca Bianchi.
 
Ten minutes later, Romeo Romao paved his way into the area from the right and his low shot was palmed away by Bianchi.
 
Four minutes from the break, Valletta opened the score, Umeh delivered a cross into the path of Steve Borg who headed firmly past Bianchi.
 
At the start of the second half, Valletta continued to pile the pressure and on 46 minutes Romao fired over from the edge of the area.
 
A minute later, Umeh Calistus pushed forward and put Max Velasco clean through and the Argentine striker slid the ball past Bianchi.
 
The Folgore goalkeeper rescue his side twice in the space of a minute when he first saved Santiago Malano’s low drive and then had to be alert to block Umeh’s effort.
 
Folgore finally threatened their opponents on 71 minutes when Marco Bernardi was at the end of a cross by Luca Bezzi but his dipping header just missed the upright.

2017-18 vs Folgore 2017-18 vs Folgore
 
Nine minutes from time, Michael Mifsud embarked on a fine run from the right which saw him outpace Luca Paradisi but his cross-shot was pushed away by goalkeeper Bianchi.
 
Valletta almost made it 3-0. On the 93 minute, when Michael Mifsud’s shot was pushed away by Bianchi.
 
During the away leg, Valletta edged Folgore 1-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Serravalle to seal a 3-0 aggregate win.
 
Zoran Popovic, the Valletta coach, kept the same squad that won the opening leg 2-0 a week before.
 
Umeh Calistus was deployed at the back with the task of aiding Romeu Romao on the right flank.
 
Maximiliano Velasco was the main striker with Malta striker Michael Mifsud supporting him on the left.
 
Valletta started started to pile up the pressure on the Folgore defence with Santiago Malano coming close on four minutes but his header was pushed away by Luca Bianchi.
 
Michael Mifsud tried his luck from the distance but his effort flew over the bar.
 
Mifsud could have gave Valletta the lead on 17 minutes when from a tight angle, he tried to slot the ball behind the goalkeeper but the latter managed to save temporarily before the defenders cleared the danger.
 
Moments later, Valletta threatened again when Santiago Malano went past the Folgore midfielders before sliding the ball towards Maximiliano Velasco. However, the Argentine striker shot straight into the hands of the Luca Bianchi.
 
On the stroke of half-time, Folgore almost took the lead, Valletta goalkeeper Henry Bonello opted to come out of his area with the ball at his feet but was dispossessed by Marco Bernardi.
 
However, the San Marino striker shot wide. After the change of ends, both teams struggled to raise the tempo of the game.
 
However, Valletta took the lead, through a perfect free kick from Santiago Malano, which after hitting the woodwork, hit the back of Luca Bianchi and rolled into the net.
 
Moments later, Ramiro Martin Lago tried to surprise Henry Bonello from a long-range shot but his effort went over the crossbar.
 
Folgore continued to push and they almost levelled the score, when from a corner-kick, Valletta failed to clear the danger away but none of their opponents managed to connect successfully with the delivery.

Season 2017-2018 - vs FC Utrecht
 
During the second qualifying round at the Hibs Stadium, Valletta kept alive their hopes of upsetting FC Utrecht in the Europa League when the Citizens held the Dutch to a goalless draw. 
 
Zoran Popovic made no changes to his starting formation as he kept faith with the same starting eleven that featured in the first qualifying round win over San Marino’s Folgore.
 
Utrecht’s Erik Ten Hag handed a debut to his two latest signings, attacking midfielder Sander Van De Streek and forward Simon Makienok, formerly of Palermo.
 
Urby Emanuelson, who had spells at Milan and Sheffield Wednesday, had to settle with a place on the bench.
 
Vitesse bossed the proceedings and their first chance came after four minutes when after good passing move Makienov picked Zakaria Labyad whose stinging drive was blocked by defender Ryan Camilleri.
 
But the best chance in the first opening minutes fell to Valletta after 13 minutes as Santiago
Malano passed the ball into the path of Maximiliano Velasco and the Argentine saw his shot blocked by goalkeeper David Jensen.
 
Santiago Malano, with helpof hard working duo of Claudio Pani and Gill, was distributing good balls for forwards Michael Mifsud and Max Velasco who were unsettling the Dutch
defence with their speed.
 
Utrecht finally threatened on the half hour when Van De Streek’s low shot was somehow pushed awaygoalkeeper Henry Bonello.
 
At the other end, Valletta threatened when Santiago Malano picked Romeo Romao
at the edge of the area and his low shot was saved by Jensen.
 
On the restart of the second half, Sean Klaiber sped into the area and his low shot was blocked by Henry Bonello with his feet.
 
The Dutch side were growing increasingly frustrated with their inability to break down the Citizens defence and they vented their frustration in a series of niggling fouls.
 
On 68 minutes, Zoran Popovic effected his first change when he withdrew the tiring Romao and roped in Kyrian Nwoko and minutes later he introduced Jean Borg for Max Velasco in order to inject fresh energy in his team’s forward line.



2017-18 vs FC Utrecht 2017-18 vs FC Utrecht
 
On 86 minutes Valletta protested for a penalty when they contended that Michael Mifsud’s
Powerful shot had hit the arm of Ayoub but the referee waved away their protests.
 
Utrecht tried to pile up the pressure late on but Valletta held on to a prestigious result to the delight of their fans.

Valletta lost their away leg 3-1, at the Mandemakers Stadion.
 
It was far from a straight-forward victory for the Dutch side who after taking an early lead through a Sean Klaiber screamer they failed to press home their advantage as the visitors kept themselves in the match with a battling display.
 
Valletta coach Zoran Popovic kept faith with the same players that featured in the opening leg. As expected, FC Utrecht made all the early running and four minutes passed when Sean Klaiber’s effort flashed wide.
 
The Dutch had an even better chance on 10 minutes. Simon Makienok spurned a glorious opportunity to open the score when with only goalkeeper Henry Bonello to beat the former Palermo striker was denied by the Valletta goalkeeper.
 
Valletta failed to heed the alarm bells as in their next attack, Utrecht struck again.
 
Yassin Ayoub delivered a cross from the right flank that was deflected into the path of Klaiber who hit a wonderful first time volley that gave the Valletta goalkeeper no chance.
 
Utrecht could have easily doubled the score on 24 minutes but somehow kept out Makienok’s close-range header.
 
Valletta finally threatened nine minutes from the break with a long-range shot from Maximiliano Velasco that flew wide.
 
Makienok missed another open opportunity on the 36th minute when he was again denied by the onrushing Henry Bonello.
 
On the restart, Valletta started to push more men forward and the 57th minute Michael Mifsud went around his marker but hit the side netting from a close angle.
 
Three minutes later FC Utrecht goalkeeper David Jensen came to the recuse to push away Uchenna Umeh’s cross-shot.
 
Valletta tried to push more men forward but the hosts scored again, 14 minutes from time when skipper Willem Janssen connected with Moroccan Labyad’s corner kick to head the ball past Henry Bonello.
 
The Citizens were rattled and the Dutch added a third goal seven minutes from time when Labyad struck with a curling drive. 
 
Finally, Valletta managed to pull a goal back two minutes from time when Santiago Malano
headed the ball home from a corner kick.
 

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