Floriana suffered a heart-breaking loss on penalties to Flora Tallinn of Estonia in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League at the National Stadium on Thursday.
Following a quiet first half, the match came to life in the second with Floriana creating several goal-scoring opportunities and being quite unlucky not to take the lead. However with no goals being scored, the game went into extra-time and eventually, the penalty shoot-out had to determine the winner. The Greens missed the first two and although Fonseca and Busuttil did score, Flora only missed one and therefore emerged as winners.
Photos: Copyright © Mark Galea
Flora Tallinn will be facing Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday at the Stadion Maksimir in the play-off stage.
During the first half, there was hardly a shot at goal except for a Konstantin Vassiljev effort which was parried by Akpan.
However, the second half was a completely different story. On the 48th minute, Keqi entered the area from the left and served Fonseca whose assist for Nicola Leone saw the Italian midfielder’s effort being deflected into a corner by a defender.
Brandon Paiber went close with a low shot and then Diego Venancio hit just over the bar. A Nicola Leone effort was parried by the Estonian goalkeeper on the 63rd. A minute later, Keqi served Paiber whose conclusion was saved by Igonen.
The Greens maintained the pressure and a Matias Garcia effort was deflected into a corner on the 67th minute.
Ten minutes from time, Diego Venancio just missed the target with a powerful freekick from the right and on the 88th, Flora went close with a Mark Anders Lepik angled shot which Akpan turned into a corner.
With the score still draw, the game went into extra-time.
Four minutes in the first half of extra-time, Flavio Cheveresan hit just wide off a cross by Keqi.
Four minutes from the end of the second half of extra-time, Tiago Adan Fonseca’s powerful drive scraped past the post.
Michael Lilander scored to put Flora ahead while Kristian Keqi hit wide for Floriana. Vladislav Kreida made it 2-0 while Diego Venancio’s effort was blocked by Igonen. Markus Poom had his penalty saved by Akpan and Tiago Adan Fonseca scored for Floriana. Marten Kuusk scored for Flora and Jan Busuttil did the same for the Greens. However Frank Liivak scored for Floriana to make it 4-2.
FLORIANA Ini Etim Akpan, Enzo Ruiz, Diego Venancio, Nicolka Leone (118’ Jan Busuttil), Kristian Keqi, Brandon Paiber (81’ Flavio Silva Cheveresan), Jurgen Pisani, Matias Nicolas Garcia, Marcelo Dias, Ryan Camenzuli, Tiago Adan Fonseca.
FLORA Matvei Igonen, Marten Kuusk, Marco Lukka, Vladislav Kreida, Rauno Alliku (69’ Martin Miller), Rauno Sappinen (81’ Mark Anders Lepik), Konstantin Vassiljev (99’ Markus Poom), Henrik Purg, Michael Lilander, Markus Soomets, Vlasiy Sinyavskiy (106\ Frank Liivak).
Referee: Irfan Peljto (BOS)