Champions Valletta have virtually secured a place in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League as they found no difficulty in hitting no less than eight goals past FC Lusitans of Andorra in the first leg at the Hibernians Stadium. This was definitely a record win for a Maltese club in a European competition as no other local club had ever registered a win by more than a four-goal margin.
The Citizens started as favourites but no one expected such a difference between the two teams. The locals scored five in the first twenty-three minutes, adding another goal before the end of the first half. After the break, Valletta scored another two goals to seal the issue.
Valletta coach Mark Miller opted to start with six foreign players in the starting line-up, namely Brazilians William Barbosa, Denni, Jusselio da Silva, Jhonnattan and Ricardo Filho and Dutch goalkeeper Andre Krul. Assistant coach Gilbert Agius was a surprise inclusion on the bench.
Bruninho concluded a good run on the left with a shot ending just wide on the 2nd minute and a few minutes later, a Reis effort was parried by Krul.
The Citizens managed to take the lead in their first attempt at goal on the 4th when off a Jhonnattan corner from the right, Jonathan Caruana’s header was deflected by a defender to end at the back of the net.
Valletta could have made it 2-0 two minutes later when Jhonnattan released Michael Mifsud inside the area but consecutive shots by the two players were blocked by the Lusitans rear-guard. On the 7th, Michael Mifsud received a through pass on the right and crossed but Denni just failed to connect.
However Michael Mifsud doubled the score on the 10th minute, heading the ball home off a Jhonnattann cross from the right.
Jonathan Caruana went close once again on the 13th minute with another header off a corner by Jhonnattan from the right.
Valletta scored the third goal on 17 minutes when William Barbosa served Denni on the right and off the latter’s cross, Jhonnattan Benites da Conceicao slammed the ball home.
Hardly a minute later, Michael Mifsud dashed into the penalty area from the right,following an assist by Barbosa, rounded the goalkeeper and a defender, concluding his solo effort by hitting home from close range to make it 4-0.
The Citizens scored the fifth goal when Jhonnattann caught goalkeeper Andres Benites out the area, as the latter had rushed to try to stop Michael Mifsud, and placed the ball at the back of the net with a perfect lob.
Just before the end of the first half, Michael Mifsud completed a hat-trick when he received a pass by Roderick Briffa and hit the ball in the left corner behind goalkeeper Benitez.
Denni hit the upright on 56 minutes with the ball being cleared into a corner by a defender and from the resulting corner by Jhonnattann, Jonathan Caruana’s goal-bound header was cleared into safety by a defender. On the other side of the pitch, on 62 minutes, a freekick by Luis Pinto ended just over the bar.
Michael Mifsud increased the lead to seven goals on the 70th as he received a pass by Roderick Briffa, rounded the goalkeeper and placed the ball at the back of the net from close range.
Substitute Edmond Agius scored the eight goal, hardly two minutes after replacing Jhonnattann, when he received a perfect pass by Briffa, advanced into the area and hit low past Benitez.
Luis Reis went close for the visitors with a direct freekick on the 80th. Two minutes from time, Michael Mifsud went close to adding another with a cute lob but the ball ended just over the bar. A minute later, Denni hit the crossbar with a fine shot from inside the area.
The second leg will be played in Andorra la Vella next Tuesday.
VALLETTA Andre Krul, Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi (68’ Dyson Falzon), Jusselio da Silva, Ricardo da Rocha Filho (46’ Ryan Fenech), Jonathan Caruana, Roderick Briffa, William Barbosa, Denni Rocha dos Santos, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao (70’ Edmond Agius), Michael Mifsud.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Kevin Sammut, Cleavon Frendo, Gilbert Agius.
Coach: Mark Miller
FC LUSITANS Andres Benitez, Yael Fontan, Hugo Veloso (52’ Fernando Goncalves), Leonel Maciel Antunes (85’ Edgardo Meza), Franklim Soares (23’ Luis Reis), Rafael Brito Amaral, Luis Pinto, Vlamecir Nunes Fernandes ‘Atabu’, Sebastian Bertran, Bruno Raposo, Pedro Reis.
Subs not used: Ricardo Fernandez, Jonathan Ferreira, Samuel Martins, Bruno Silva.
Coach: Vicent Marquez
Referee: Johnny Casanova (SMR)
Assistant Referees: Massimo Zanotti, Andrea Guidi (SMR)
Fourth Official: Leonardo Guidi (SMR)
Yellow Cards: Veloso, Maciel
Scorers: 4’ Jonathan Caruana, 10’ Michael Mifsud, 17’ Jhonnattan, 18’ Michael Mifsud, 22’ Jhonnattann, 45+1’ Michael Mifsud, 70’ Michael Mfisud, 72’ Edmond Agius