Valletta held FC Utrecht in a goalless draw in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round at the Hibernians Stadium on Thursday. A result which leaves the chances to reach the next stage wide open for both sides ahead of the second leg in programme next week.
Valletta coach Zoran Popovic maintained his faith in the starting formation of the last two matches with Bonello in goal, Umeh, Borg, Camilleri and Zerafa in defence, Romao, Gill, Pani and Mifsud in midfield with Velasco and Malano in attack.
The Citizens shared the exchanges with their opponents in the early stages, going close with a Maxi Velasco effort on the 14th minute after exchanging the ball with Romeu Romao.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, however, Valletta threatened once again with a powerful drive by Romeu Romao from the right but the ball was turned into a corner by Daniel Jensen.
Four minutes in the second half, Bonello came to the rescue blocking a Sean Klaiber effort from the right. Finally a cross shot by substitute Kyrian Nwoko on the 70th was parried by the Utrecht goalkeeper.
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Cruz Gill, Santiago Malano, Michael Mifsud (89′ Roderick Briffa), Joseph Zerafa, Claudio Pani, Maxi Velasco (72′ Jean Borg), Uchenna Umeh, Romeu Romao (69’ Kyrian Nwoko).
UTRECHT David Jensen, Mark van de Maarel, Gyrano Emilio Kerk (88′ Bilal Ould Chikh), Yassine Ayoub, Simon Makienok, Zakaria Labyad, Jeff Hardeveld (80′ Urby Emanuelson), Willem Janssen, Sean Klaiber, Sander Van De Streek, Edson Braafheid.
Referee: Ognjen Valjic (BIH)
Assistant Referees: Senad Ibrisimbegovic, Sreten Udovicic (BIH)
Fourth Official: Admir Sehovic (BIH)