FC Minsk bring Valletta's positive run to an end

UEFA-Europa-LeagueValletta were eliminated from the UEFA Europa League after suffering a 2-0 defeat to FC Minsk of Belarus in the second leg of the second qualifying round at the Torpedo Stadium in Zhodino on Thursday.

FC Minsk, who qualify with a 3-1 aggregate score, will now face the winner of the clash between Rosenborg of Norway and St. Johnstone of Scotland.

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 the Citizens 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 leg.

MINSK Vladimir Bushma, Roman Begunov, Sergei Sosnovski, Aleksandr Sverchinski, Sergei Kozeka, Roman Vasilyuk (89′ Aleksandr Makas), Aleksandr Sachivklo, Dmitri Gorbushin (57′ Artem Buloychik), Milos Rnic, Vital Kibuk (78′ Serhiy Rozhok), Nikita Bukatkin.
VALLETTA Pietro Marino, Jonathan Caruana (69′ Romulo Marcos Antoneli), Ian Azzopardi (46′ Shaun Bajada), Ryan Fenech, Roderick Briffa, Hamza Barry, Denni Rocha dos Santos, Dyson Falzon, Aud-Gustine James Obaje (77′ Ian Zammit), Jason Vandelannoite, Luke Dimech.
Referee: Alexander Kostadinov (BUL)
Assistant Referees: Ivaylo Milkov, Martin Margaritov (BUL)
Fourth Official: Vihren Manev (BUL)