Early goals pave the way for comfortable Astana win

Two goals within the first fifteen minutes paved the way for a comfortable win for FC Astana at the Astana Arena in Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round on Thursday. 

Astana took just eight minutes to forge ahead when off a cross by Rotariu from the left, Runar Mar Sigurjonsson hit home with a first time effort. 

Seven minutes later, the hosts doubled the score when off a cross from the left, Yuri Logvinenko headed home from close range. 

Rotariu was then unlucky to hit the foot of the upright from close range. 

Marin Tomasov made it 3-0 on 35 minutes after entering the area from the left and beating Bonello in style with a cute lob from a close angle. 

One minute from the end of the first half, Mario Fontanella went close for Valletta with a good shot which was turned into a corner by Eric.

Twelve minutes in the second half, Astana scored the fourth goal when Rotariu concluded a good run on the left flank with an assist for Sigurjonsson who slotted the ball past Bonello.

Valletta reduced the gap on 67 minutes thanks to Mario Fontanella who received a through pass on the right flank, beating the Astana goalkeeper with a shot from inside the area. 

However ten minutes from time, Astana made it 5-1 thanks to Rangelo Janga who recveived a cross from the right by Tomasov from the right and advanced into the area before hitting past Bonello.

ASTANA Nenad Eric, Antonio Rukavina, Dorin Rotariu (87’ Roman Murtazayev), Runar Mar Sigurjonsson, Marin Tomasov, Maevski (63’ Yuri Pertsukh), Firmin Mubele (63’ Rangelo Janga), Simunovic, Yuri Logvinenko, Evgeni Postnikov, Dmitri Shomko.

VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camilleri, Kyrian Nwoko (61’ Shaun Dimech), Jean Borg, Enmy Pena Beltre, Joseph Zerafa, Douglas Packer (78’ Matteo Piciollo), Rowen Muscat, Mario Fontanella, Yuri de Jesus Messias, Kevin Tulimieri (61’ Nicholas Pulis).

Referee: Vladislav Bezborodov (RUS)