A goal just before half-time paved the way for a 3-0 win for FC Krasnodar over Birkirkara in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round at the Hibernians Stadium on Thursday.
As expected, the Russians were a tough nut to crack for Birkirkara who were coming from four positive results – two wins and two draws in the first two rounds and were yet to concede a goal at home. The Stripes, however, still gave a good account of themselves and the final score is too harsh on them.
Birkirkara coach Drazen Besek made only one change to the team which defeated Heart of Midlothian as Dejan Djordjevic replaced Edward Herrera in a 4-4-2 formation.
Photo: Copyright © Jonathan Bugeja
The visitors held the initiative going close to taking the lead on the 26th minute when off a inviting through ball, Ari’s header hit the crossbar. Four minutes later, Kopric performed a good save on Marat Izmaylov from the right. Six minutes from the end of the first half, the Birkirkara custodian neutralised a fine attempt by Fedor Smolov. Birkirkara replied with a Shaun Bajada corner from the right which just missed the target.
However just before half-time, Krasnodar managed to break the deadlock when off a corner from the left by Pereyra, Strandberg headed the ball down for captain Andreas Granqvist to hit home from close range.
Krasnodar sealed the issue on the 75th minute after Marcelina brought Ari down inside the area and Fedor Smolov – the top scorer in the Russian Premier League last season – made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Ryan Scicluna was sent off for Birkirkara after receiving a second yellow card.
Kopric performed two good saves on Smolov in the dying minutes but could do nothing to stop substitute Joaozinho from slotting the ball home from close range one minute from time.
The second leg will be played at the Kuban Stadium in Krasnodar on Thursday 4th August.[gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”pic_name” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”1″]
B’KARA Miroslav Kopric, Christian Bubalovic, Gareth Sciberras, Marcelina Emerson, Srdjan Dimitrov (83′ Matthew Guillaumier), Dejan Djordjevic (62′ Mislav Andjelkovic), Vito Plut, Shaun Bajada (61′ Frank Temile), Joseph Zerafa, Ryan Scicluna, Cain Attard.
KRASNODAR Stanislav Kritciuk, Marat Izmaylov, Stefan Strandberg, Dmitry Torbinskiy, Andreas Granqvist, Iurii Gazinskii, Ari (76′ Wanderson), Odil Akhmedov (83′ Joaozinho), Mauricio Pereyra (64′ Ricardo Laborde), Artur Jędrzejczyk, Fedor Smolev.
Referee: Bart Vertenten (BEL)
Assistant referees: Rien Vanyzere, Thibaud Nijssen (BEL)
Fourth official: Bram Van Driessche (BEL)