Gzira, Ventspils ends in 2-2 draw

Gzira United were eliminated from the UEFA Europa League following a 2-2 draw with FK Ventspils in the second leg of the second qualifying round at the Centenary Stadium on Thursday. Ventspils therefore qualify for the third qualifying round where they will probably be facing Vitoria SC of Portugal.

Having to score no less than five goals to overturn the result following the 4-0 defeat in the first leg, the Maroons went out in search of goals but although they did manage to score early in the game, they failed to increase the score and Ventspils eventually managed to score twice. However deep into stoppage time, Gzira levelled matters to bow out of the competition with a draw.

Coach Giovanni Tedesco made one change from the first leg as Amadou Samb was preferred to Zach Scerri.

The Maroons managed to take the lead on the 15th minute when off a cross by Kone from the left, Jefferson controlled the ball before hitting low past Makhnovskyy.

Jevgenijs Kazacoks was unlucky to hit the foot of the upright for Ventspils nine minutes later but Gzira went close with attempts by Jefferson, Kone and Conti. On the 42 minute, Amadou Samb had a goal-bound shot cleared off the goal line by Abdoul-Gafar Mamah and the Sengalese striker took the loose ball but his cross was blocked once again by Mamah.

Ventspils equalised on the 72nd minute thanks to a direct free kick by captain Jevgenijs Kazacoks which surprised goalkeeper Justin Haber with the ball ending in the top right corner.

Seven minutes later, a powerful drive from the left by substitute Mykhailo Serhiichuk put the visitors surprisingly 2-1 ahead.

However four minutes in added time, off a Hamed Kone corner from the right, Rodolfo Soares’ header hit the upright and off the rebound, the ball reached Jefferson who placed the ball at the back of the net to level matters.

GZIRA Justin Haber, Fernando Barbosa, Gianmarco Conti, Nikolai Muscat, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Juan Carlos Corbalan, Hamed Kone, Amadou Samb (80′ Zach Scerri), Arthur Henrique, Jefferson de Assis.
VENTSPILS Kostyantyn Makhnovskyy, Sony Alcenat, Pavel Osipov (56′ Lucas Villela), Jevgenijs Kazacoks, Eduards Tidenbergs (69’ Mykhalo Serhiichuk), Abdullahi Alfa (44’ Guga Palavandishvili), Aiyegun Tosin, Giorgi Mchedishvili, Kaspars Svarups, Abdoul-Gafar Mamah, Helio Batista.

Referee: Thorvaldur Arnason (ICE)
Assistant Referees: Johann Gunnar Gudmundsson, Birkir Sigurdarson (ICE)
Fourth Official: Ivar Orri Kritjansson (ICE)