Valletta bow out of Europa League following 1-2 defeat

Valletta’s adventure in the UEFA Europa League 2015/16 ended with a highly disappointing 1-2 defeat to Newtown AFC of Wales at the Hibernians Stadium in the second leg of the first qualifying round.

Therefore Newtown AFC progress to the second qualifying round with a 4-2 aggregate score – their first ever qualification to a second round of a UEFA competition, where they will be facing Danish Superliga runners-up and Cup winners FC København.

The Citizens had four changes from the team which lost 1-2 in the first leg as Jhonnattann, Thierry Fidjeu Tazameta and the returning Jonathan Caruana and Roderick Briffa replaced Luke Montebello, Uchenna Umeh, Maxim Focsa and the suspended Ian Azzopardi. Tazameta, who had a spell with Xewkija Tigers over a decade ago, was therefore making his debut for Paul Zammit’s side.

Newtown had a dream start, taking the lead on the 7th minute when off a cross from the right, Jason Oswell flicked the ball home past goalkeeper Nicky Vella. At this point, Valletta needed to score two to force extra-time and three to reach the next round.

On the 21st, Mills-Evans came to the rescue clearing the ball off the goal-line after the goalkeeper failed to hold a Juan Cruz Gill header. Abdelkarim Nafti went close with a freekick on the 34th minute. However two minutes later, Newtown were unlucky to hit the upright through Boundford.

One minute in the second half, Valletta restored equilibrium when off a cross by Jhonnattann from the right, Thierry Fidjeu Tazameta tapped the ball home from close range.

Abdelkarim Nafti tried his luck with a rising shot from the left which scraped past the post on the hour.

Valletta were reduced to ten men on the 74th after Ryan Camilleri was sent off for a rough tackle on Sutton inside the area.

Seven minutes from time, Newtown were awarded a penalty after Jason Oswell was adjudged to have been brought down inside the area by Juan Cruz Gill but Matthew Owen’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by Nicky Vella. However following a clearance, Matthew Owen regained possession and managed to beat the Valletta custodian with a low diagonal shot from the edge of the area.

Substitute Matthew Cook was then sent off for the Welsh after receiving a second yellow card.

VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Llywelyn Cremona, Juan Cruz Gill, Ryan Camilleri, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Jonathan Caruana, Dyson Falzon, Claudio Pani, Roderick Briffa, Abdelkarim Nafti (87′ Uchenna Umeh), Thierry Fidjeu Tazameta (63′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza).

NEWTOWN David Edward Jones, Stefan Craig Edwards, Matthew Lee Owen (89′ Jamie Michael Price), Kieren Mills-Evans, Shane Sutton, Matthew Paul Hearsey (68′ Matthew James Cook), Luke Alan Boundford, Jason Matthew Oswell, Neil Mitchell (88′ Gareth Edward Partridge), Craig Williams, Thomas James Goodwin.

Referee: Mihaly Fabian (HUN)
Assistant referees: Zsolt Varga, Zoltán Bozo (HUN)
Fourth official: Zsolt Szabó (HUN)
Yellow Cards: Boundford, Mills-Evans, Nafti, Jones, Gill, Cook, Triganza, Partridge
Red Cards: Camilleri, Cook
Attendance: 1,914