UEFA Champions League – F91 Dudelange 2 Valletta 2
Photo credits: Ben Majerus
DUDELANGE: T. Kips; C. Stumpf, T. Schnell, R. Delgado, M. Bouchouari, D. Solz, M. Garos (C. Morren), S. Bougrine (D. Sinani), M. Pokar, B. Barbosa, A. Bettaieb (L. Pomponi)
VALLETTA: H. Bonello; M. Fontanella, J. Borg, S. Malano (N. Pulis), K. Tulimieri (S. Dimech), D. Packar (A. Monticelli), S. Borg, R. Muscat, J. Zerafa, K. Nwoko, E. Pena Beltre.
Scorers: 26′ A. Bettaieb, 47′ D. Stolz (D), 64’D. Packar, 70′ J. Borg
Yellow cards: K. Tulimieri, S. Borg, R. Muscat, K. Nwoko, N. Pulis (V) M. Garos, R. Delgado (D)
Red card: 89′ R. Muscat (V)
Referee: A. Hunter (N. Ireland)
Douglas Packer produced an impressive debut for Valletta as the Brazilian midfielder orchestrated Valletta’s stunning fightback in the Champions League first qualifying round as they came from two goals down to take a vital draw against F91 Dudelange in Luxembourg yesterday.
It looked as though Valletta were set for a damaging defeat when falling two goals down by the end of the first half.
But after the interval, Valletta came to the fore and two goals in the space of six minutes from Douglas and Jean Borg earned the Malta champions a valuable draw that puts them in the driving seat ahead of next week’s second leg at the Centenary Stadium.
Darren Abdilla, the Valletta coach, handed a debut to both Douglas and Kevin Tulimieri while goalkeeper Henry Bonello was in goal after recovering from a back injury.
It was Dudelange who were on top for much of the first half as they pressed hard in search of an opening goal that would give them the initiative.
The hosts could have been in front twice in the opening ten minutes when first Adel Bettaieb and then Dominik Stolz were handed clear-cut chances but on both occasions they were denied by the Valletta goalkeeper.
However, Dudelange’s pressure yielded an opener on 26 minutes when Mario Pokar set up Bettaieb who slammed the ball past Bonello.
Valletta were stunned and Dudelange seemed to all but secure their win when adding a second goal just before half-time.
Mohamed Bouchouari created the goal when he set up Stolz who drilled the ball into the net.
But after the break, Valletta continued to try and play positive football and their cause was aided by a moment of genius from their new signing Douglas Packer.
They were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area and Douglas hit a fine curling drive that flew into the top corner of the net.
The goal inevitably galvanised the Citizens and it was no surprise that six minutes later they managed to restore parity.
Valletta were awarded a corner kick from which Douglas sent a fine ball onto the near post where Jean Borg was on hand to head home.
Dudelange tried to recover but Valletta kept their composure for the rest of the match.
The only blemish for the Citizens came late on when midfielder Rowen Muscat was dismissed for a second bookable offence which will rule him out of next week’s second leg.