Europa League – Valletta 1 FC Minsk 1
Valletta – Pietro Marino, Yessous Camilleri, Roderick Briffa, Luke Dimech, Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Dyson Falzon, Ryan Fenech (Ian Zammit), Hamza Barry, Jason Vandelanoitte, Shaun Bajada (Jonathan Caruana)
FC Minsk – Vladzimir Bushma, Raman Behvnou, Siarhei Sasnouski, Aliaksandr Sviarchymski, Siarhei Kazeka, Raman Vasiliuk, Aliaksandr Sachyuka, Dmilry Gorbushim (Sergiy Rozhok), Aliaksei Bialevich (Yury Asiraukh), Aliaksandr Makas (Vital Kibuk), Arnal Conde (Austin Obaje), Milos Rnic.
UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round
Date: 18.07.2013 – National Stadium, Ta’ Qali
Yellow Cards: R. Briffa, H. Barry (V), M. Rnic, A. Belevich, Y. Ostrouh, S. Rozhok.
Scorers: 5′ A. Sachivko, 44′ R. Fenech
Referee: Oliver Drachta (Austria)
Valletta face an uphill struggle to reach the third qualifying round of the Europa League after being held to a 1-1 home draw 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.
Their commitment was there for all to see as the City players chased every ball and tried to push forward incessantly but they lacked punch up front.
Valletta’s evening started on the a bad note as they fell behind after five minutes.
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.
The early goal was hammer blow for Valletta but they replied immediately through Brazilian Denni whose curling shot hit the outside of the far post.
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.
The Belarussian side were causing Valletta problems with their brisk movement and fast counter-attacks.
Midway into the first half, Behunov again ran into the box from the right and his pass was deflected into the path of Aliakesandr Makas who flicked wide from a favourable position.
As half-time approach, Valletta intensified their pressure. A cross by Ryan Fenech was blocked by the FC Minsk goalkeeper who easily outjumped 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 Fenech who drove home from close range.
FC Minsk showed the better ideas at the start of the second half. Sergiy Rozhov, who had come on after half-time, released Bialevich who fired wide.
Thirteen minutes into the second half, Miller withdrew Spanish striker Arnal Conde, was 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.
Revitalised by the running of their two substitutes, Rozhok and Vizal Kibuk, FC Minsk were penetrating the Valletta defence with worrying ease.
Kibuk raced into the box to latch on to Rozhok’s pass but his angled grounder was narrowly off target.
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.
Source – Times of Malta