Gzira United came from behind to stage an incredible comeback as they beat Croatian giants Hajduk Split 3-1 at the Stadion Poljud in Split in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round on Thursday. The Maroons proceed to the next round on the away goals rule following a 3-3 aggregate score.
In the second qualifying round, Gzira United will be facing Ventspils of Latvia who defeated Albanian side Teuta with a 3-1 aggregate score. The first leg will be played in Latvia next week.
After the harsh 0-2 defeat in the first leg which saw Hajduk score late in the first half and double the score on the 96th minute, Gzira coach Giovanni Tedesco made some changes, including Elvis Sakyi and Andrew Cohen in the starting line-up in lieu of Zach Scerri and Ridwaru Olatunde Adeyemo.
Bassel Jradi put Hajduk ahead on the 7th minute with a low shot from the edge of the area but twelve minutes in the second half, Jefferson levelled matters for the Maroons, heading the ball home off a cross from the left.
Substitute Josip Juranovic was unlucky to hit the upright with a powerful shot from the left for Hajduk but four minutes later, Hamed Kone made it 2-1 for Gzira with a brilliant scissors-kick when served by Nikolai Muscat.
Six minutes in added time, the Maroons scored the third goal – once again thanks to Hamed Kone who received a cross from the left by Jefferson and beat Duka with a rising shot ending in the top left corner.
HAJDUK Tomislav Duka, Borja Lopez, Hamza Barry, Oleksandr Svatok, Dino Besirovic (81′ Anthony Kalik), Ivan Delic, Jairo, Josip Basic, Ivan Dolcek (58′ Josip Juranovic), Francesco Tahiraj (58′ Stanko Juric), Bassel Jradi.
GZIRA Justin Haber, Fernando Barbosa, Gianmarco Conti, Nikolai Muscat, Rodolfo Soares (77′ Zach Scerri), Andrew Cohen (86′ Amadou Samb), Juan Carlos Corbalan, Hamed Kone, Elvis Sakyi (66′ Sacha Borg), Arthur Henrique, Jefferson de Assis.
Referee: Nikolas Neokleous (CYP)
Assistant Referees: Michael Soteriou, Marios Dimitriadis (CYP)
Fourth Official: Chrysovalantis Theouli (CYP)