2010-2011 Valletta vs KS Ruch Chorzow
Spurred on by memories of their positive run in the Europa League last season, Valletta were keen to make home advantage count – the heat and all – in the first leg of their second qualifying round tie against
Ruch Chorzow, yesterday.
An early goal from a penalty threatened to kill Valletta’s hopes before next week’s second leg as the Poles refused to give away an inch but the home team held composure.
The technical brilliance of the likes of new signing Denni, the forceful wing play of Omonigo Temile and the clever movement of Roderick Briffa ensured that Valletta had a distinct edge over opponents who were strong and fast but lacking in creativity.
The Citizens created the better chances but had to wait until 15 minutes from time to rescue the match as Terrence Scerri, a second half substitute, finally found a way past the erstwhile impregnable Ruch Chorzow goalkeeper.
Jesmond Zerafa set his team out in a 4-1-4-1 formation. Captain Gilbert Agius took up the holding midfielder’s role behind the more advanced quartet of Temile,Denni,
Briffa and Dyson Falzon.
The game was less than three minutes old when Andrew Hogg, the Valletta goalkeeper was forced into his first save as he repelled a menacing shot from Marzin Zajac.
Denni was solely responsible for creating Valletta’s first notable chance. The Brazilian waltzed his way into the box but his grounder was blocked by keeper Krzysztof Pilarz.
Shortly afterwards, Falzon’s persistent probing earned Valletta a free-kick inside the. Gilbert Agius curled his shot towards goal but Pilarz dived to his right to palm the ball away.
The scorching heat was making life difficult for both teams. The Citizens threatened to open the scoring when Zammit, profiting from a rushed clearance, closed in on goal but his effort went off target.
From the possibility of going in front, Valletta found themselves 1-0 down.
Having intercepted a cross, Steve Bezzina was punished for his hesitancy as Sebastian Olszar dispossessed him. The Valletta left-back tried to make amends but his sliding tackle floored Olszar and Israeli referee Menashe Masiah pointed to the spot. Nojcieh Grzyb drove his shot past Hogg.
Falling behind so early was a setback for Valletta. They may have restored equilibrium when Temile embarked on a strong run but his cross-cum-shot found no takers.
At the other end, Hogg denied Chorzow when pawing away KrzysztofNykiel’s strike afteravertical ball had found the slow-moving City defence in a state of disarray.
A flowing Valletta move on 31 minutes unlocked the opposing defence as Briffa set up Denni who advanced before passing to Zammit. He flicked the ball to Falzon whose rising shot ended over the bar.
The force was with Valletta now. Temile delivered a perfect cross to Zammit but his tame header was saved by Pilarz.
Valletta then screamed penalty when Denni swooped on a loose ball in the box but his progression appeared to have been halted by Pilarz. The referee waved ‘play on’ as the ball rolled to Temile but his effort was deflected away for a corner.
Three minutes from half-time Zerafa’s men were let off the hook when Olszar advanced unimpeded before crossing for Tukasz Janoszk who failed to control the ball.
Chorzow’s menace on the flanks was in abundant evidence four minutes into the second half whenZajac got behind Bezzina and teed up Olszar who blasted over.
Valletta missed a gilt-edged chance to level matters 10 minutes into the second half.
Zammit’s in swinger arced towards the unmarked Briffa who looked certain to score but his header drew a superb save from Pilzar.
With Briffa, Denni and Temile prancing across the pitch to good effect, Valletta seized the initiative but a speculative cross-shot by Grzyb almost surprised Hogg as the ball came off the bar.
Jonathan Caruana, lurking in the visitors’ box, squandered a glorious chance to equalise. Latching on to Agius’s cross, Scerri did well to direct the ball to Caruana but the former Hibs defender miscued his shot.
Valletta’s second-half supremacy produced a deserved equaliser on 75 minutes. Denni was the provider as his ball from the left wing fell kindly to Scerri who promptly prodded home.
The Citizens kept their foot on the accelerator but they almost got caught out in an isolated Chorzow attack. The unmarked Arkadiusz Piech, however, skewed his effort from routine distance.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA 1 KS Ruch Chorzow 1
First leg, second qualifying round
Valletta: A. Hogg, S. Borg, Ramon, J. Caruana, S. Bezzina (‘80 J. Pace), R. Briffa, G. Agius,O. Temile, I. Zammit (‘66 T. Scerri), Denni, D. Falzon (‘56 K. Sammut).
KS Ruch Chorzow: K. Pilarz, K. Nykiel, R. Grodzicki, N. Sadlok, A. Jakubowski, G. Straka (‘74M. Mlinowski), N. Grzyb, T. Janoszka, M. Pulkowski, M. Zajac (‘59 A. Piech), S. Olszar (‘76 B. Flis).
Referee: M. Masiah (Israel)
Scorers: 18′ Grzyb (Pen), 75′ T. Scerri
Yellow Cards: Sadlok, Straka, Grzyb, Pilarz.
Competition: Europa League
Date: 15 July 2010
Centenary Stadium Ta’ Qali