Floriana came back from two goals down to hold FK Crvena Zvezda in a 3-3 draw in the second leg of the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League at the Hibernians Stadium on Thursday. Although Red Star still qualify for the next round thanks to the 3-0 win in Belgrade, the Greens were satisfied to at least get a positive result against a much more quoted side.
Floriana had three changes from the team which lost in Belgrade as Matthew Grech replaced Justin Haber in goal while Clyde Borg and Juninho Cabral replaced Nicolas Chiesa and the suspended Enzo Ruiz. Enrico Pepe had to abandon the pitch injured towards the end of the first half and was replaced by Noel Nyason.
Red Star managed to take the lead on the 12th minute when off a cross from the left, Richmond Boakye’s header hit the upright before ending at the back of the net.
Floriana replied with a close-range effort by Juninho Cabral which was blocked by the Serbian goalkeeper on the 26th minute. But on the 39th minute, Red Star threatened once again with a Srnic header which was partially saved by goalkeeper Matthew Grech.
Three minutes in added time, Floriana equalised when they were awarded a penalty after Juninho Cabral was brought down inside the area by Damien Le Tallec and from the penalty spot, Steve Pisani converted.
Red Star regained the lead on the 70th minute when off a cross by Andjelkovic, Srnic served Richmond Boakye who slotted the ball past Grech.
Substitute Nenad Milijas made it 3-1 seven minutes later, hitting low past the Floriana custodian, when served inside the area by Boakye.
However Floriana reduced the gap on the 79th minute through Maurizio Vella whose shot from the left beat Manojlovic.
Red Star were reduced to ten men on the 79th minute as substitute Gobeljic was sent off following a late tackle on Vella.
The Greens took advantage of this dismissal, equalising six minutes from time thanks to Ignacio Varela who headed the ball home off a cross by Vella from the left.
The Argentine striker was immediately sent off by the referee for provocative gestures.
FLORIANA Matthew Grech, James Baldacchino, Enrico Pepe (36’ Noel Nyason), Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg (81′ Nicolas Chiesa), Ignacio Varela, Sebastian Nayar, Maurizio Vella (92′ Daniel Agius), Juninho Cabral, Arthur Henrique, Mario Fontanella.
CRVENA ZVEZDA Filip Manojlovic, Damien Le Tallec, Abraham Frimpong, Uros Racic, Richmond Boakye, Nemanja Milic (63′ Nenad Milijas), Filip Stojokovic, Dusan Andjelkovic, Slavoljub Srnic (91′ Luka Ilic), Ricardinho (73′ Marko Gobeljic), Vujadin Savic.
Referee: Giorgios Kyzas (GRE)
Assistant Referees: Chasan Koula, Tryfon Petropoulos (GRE)
Fourth Official: Alexandros Aretopoulos (GRE)