Matias Garcia was the hero for Floriana as his tenth minute goal handed them a narrow win over Linfield FC at Windsor Park in Belfast in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. A win which puts the Greens in the third round of the competition for the first time in the history of the club.
Floriana, who had entered the UEFA Europa League after being eliminated by CFR Cluj from the UEFA Champions League, will now host Flora Tallinn of Estonia after they managed to beat KR Reykjavik 2-1 earlier on Thursday. Floriana vs Flora Tallinn will be played on Thursday 24.
Coach Vincenzo Potenza made two changes from the team which lost to Cluj as Marcelo Dias and Brandon Paiber replaced Alex Cini and Flavio Cheveresan.
The Greens scored the all-important goal on the 10th minute when off a cross by Ryan Camenzuli, Tiago Fonseca served Matias Garcia from the edge of the area and the latter hit low in the bottom right corner.
The hosts had Ross Larkin sent off on the 74th after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Kristian Keqi.
But still, Linfield could have equalised two minutes in added time with a Jimmy Callacher close-range header which however brought the best out of goalkeeper Ini Etim Akpan who palmed out the ball.
LINFIELD Christopher Johns, Ross Larkin, Jimmy Callacher, Shayne Lavery, Navid Nasseri (61′ Christy Manzinga), Matthew Clarke (62′ Waterworth), Stephen Fallon, Bastien Hery (78′ Daniel Kearns), Jamie Mulgrew, Ethan Boyle, Niall Quinn.
FLORIANA Ini Etim Akpnan, Enzo Ruiz, Diego Venancio, Nicola Leone, Kristian Keqi (83′ Flavio Cheveresan), Brandon Paiber (61′ Ulises Arias)(86′ Moustapha Beye), Jurgen Pisani, Matias Garcia, Marcelo Dias, Ryan Camenzuli, Tiago Adan Fonseca.
Referee: David Munro (SCO)