A goal on the 69th minute by captain Andrei Agius handed Hibernians a shock win over Riga FC in the first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League third qualifying round at the Daugavas stadions in Riga on Thursday.
A narrow lead which should the Paolites maintain after the second leg in programme on Thursday 12 would enable them to make history by becoming the first Maltese club to reach the play-off round of a European club competition. The winner of this two-legged tie will be facing either Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar or Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia.
Hibernians, who had goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone making his debut, had some good attempts at goal during the first half with Jurgen Degabriele having an attempt saved by the Riga FC goalkeeper and later with a Jake Grech effort ending just wide. Kone performed a good save on a header by Mikael Soisalo before Jurgen Degabriele went close with a shot ending just over the bar.
Goalkeeper Nicky Vella replaced the injured Kone for the second half and Wilfried Domoraud was unlucky to hit the woodwork seven minutes in the second half.
However on the 70th minute, they were not to be denied when a Dunstan Vella effort was deflected into a corner and from the resulting corner, Andrei Agius’ first time effort gave the Latvian goalkeeper no chance.
RIGA Ivan Brkic, Juan Camilo Saiz Ortegon, Brisola (58’ Besar Halimi), Armands Petersons, Mikael Antelo Soisalo, Karim Loukili (74’ Edgar Babayan), Ivan Paurevic, Yurii Vakulko, Jean Baptiste Leo (58’ Yunusa Muritala), Wesley Nata, Antonijs Cernomordijs.
HIBS Ibrahim Kone (46’ Nicky Vella), Ferdinando Apap (62’ Zachary Grech), Leandro Almeida, Sergio Raphael dos Anjos, Jake Grech, Jurgen Degabriele, Bjorn Kristensen, Dunstan Vella, Thaylor, Andrei Agius, Wilfried Domoraud.
Referee: Volen Chinkov (BUL)
Assistant referees: Petar Nikolov Dzhuganski, Dimitar Dobromirov (BUL)
Fourth official: Stanislav Todorov (BUL)