Narrow defeat for Valletta in Belgrade

UEFA-Champions-LeagueCrvena Zvezda came back from one goal down to beat Valletta 2-1 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round in a repeat of the first leg at the Hibs Stadium last week.

In fact, Valletta managed to take the lead once again but the Serbian giants turned the score in their favourites with two goals to move on to the third qualifying round with a 4-2 aggregate score. Crvena Zvezda will face Bulgarian champions Ludugorets Razgrad.

City coach Paul Zammit was forced to make two changes from the first leg as goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo and Michael Mifsud replaced the injured Henry Bonello and Federico Falcone.

Valletta had a perfect start taking the lead on the 11th minute when off a Jhonnattann corner from the right, Jonathan Caruana headed home past goalkeeper Kahriman.

Jhonnattann could have added another with a diagonal shot from the right and Hugo Vieira’s low shot scraped past the post at the other end.

Crvena Zvezda equalised on the half hour when Kanga served Mitchell Donald whose rising shot hit the upright before ending at the back of the net.

Three minutes later, Hugo Vieira’s intelligent back heel effort was neutralised by Manuel Bartolo.

Jhonnattann went close once again for Valletta after concluding a great solo effort with a diagonal shot from the right which ended wide on the 68th minute.

Crvena Zvezda forged ahead on the 76th when Kanga served Srnić who sent Aleksandar Katai through on the right and the captain slotted the ball past Bartolo.

Eight minutes from time, the Red Star goalkeeper performed a good Abe at point blank on Michael Mifsud to stop him from equalising.

CRVENA ZVEZDA Damir Kahriman, Damien Le Tallec, Guèlor Kanga (86′ John Jairo Ruiz), Aleksandar Katai, Pablo Mouche (66′ Slavoljub Srnić), Miloš Cvektović, Mitchell Donald, Hugo Vieira (71′ Predrag Sikimić), Zoran Rendulic, Luis Ibáñez, Thomas Phibel.

VALLETTA Manuel Bartolo, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi (79′ Uchenna Calistus Umeh), Steve Borg, Juan Rurz Gill, Michael Mifsud, Roderick Briffa (93′ Llywelyn Cremona), Claudio Pani, Leandro Aguirre, Jhonnattann, Romeu Romao (72′ Santiago Malano).

Referee: Tore Hansen (NOR)
Assistant Referees: Jon-Michael Knutsen, Øystein Ytterland (NOR)
Fourth Official: Kai Erik Steen (NOR)