Rauno Sappinen scored twice in the final fifteen minutes to hand FC Flora Tallinn a 2-0 win over Hibernians in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round at the A. Le Coq Arena (Lilleküla Stadium) in Tallinn on Tuesday.
It was a disappointing result for the Paolites who controlled their opponents well for over an hour but the dismissal of Sergio Raphael on the 73rd minute when he received a second yellow card boosted the confidence of the Estonian side who managed to break the deadlock two minutes later, adding another in the dying minutes.
Hibs had goalkeeper Nicky Vella and Taylor making their debut as they were included in the starting line-up while another new signing, Wilfried Domoraud, was included as a substitute.
During the first half, the best opportunity fell at the feet of Soomets whose fine shot from outside the area was partially saved by Vella with Ojamaa missing the target off the rebound.
Following the dismissal of Sergio Raphael, Flora took the lead on the 75th minute when following a cross from the left, Rauno Sappinen headed home past Nicky Vella.
One minute from time, Flora Tallinn doubled the score when Rauno Sappinen received an assist on the right and beat the Hibs custodian with an angled shot.
The second leg will be played at the Centenary Stadium on Tuesday 13, kick-off at 18:00.
In case of success in this two-legged tie, Hibernians would face the winners of the clash between Bodø/Glimt of Norway and Legia Warszawa of Poland. On the other hand, should Hibernians lose out to FC Flora Tallinn in this two-legged tie, they enter the second qualifying round champions path of the UEFA Europa Conference League where they would face SS Folgore of San Marino.
FLORA Matvei Igonen, Marten Kuusk, Marco Lukka, Henrik Ojamaa, Martin Miller, Rauno Sappinen, Konstantin Vassiljev, Sergei Zenjov, Henrik Purg, Michael Lilander, Markus Soomets.
HIBS Nicky Vella, Ferdinando Apap, Leandro Almeida, Sergio Raphael, Ayrton Attard, Jake Grech, Jurgen Degabriele (77’ Edafe Uzeh), Dunstan Vella, Zachary Grech (89′ Timothy Tabone Desira), Thaylor (77’ Wilfried Domoraud), Andrei Agius.
Referee: Lazar Lukic
\Assistant Referees: Dragan Bogicevic, Bojan Banovic
Fourth Official: Momcilo Markovic