Gzira United were held in a 1-1 side by Andorran side Atletic Club D’Escaldes in the first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League first qualifying round at the Centenary Stadium on Tuesday.
More was expected from the Maroons who now have to beat their opponents in Andorra in order to secure a clash in the second qualifying round with FK Radnicki Nis of Serbia.
Luis Carlos Riascos and Marcelo Dias were making their debut for Darren Abdilla’s side but Steve Pisani was ruled out injured.
Gzira went close to taking the lead on the 6th minute when off a good run by Maxuell Samurai on the left, he served Jefferson whose attempt was saved at point blank by goalkeeper Ruiz but Athletic d’Escaldes were quick to hit back with a Garrido effort which was turned into a corner by Radelic Zarkov.
The Maroons threatened once again on the 34th minute with Luis Riascos heading just over the bar off a freekick by Nikolai Muscat. Six minutes later, the Gzira custodian came to the rescue with a great save on a fine header by Lopez from close range following a corner by Cistero from the left. One minute from the end of the first half, Riascos had another good opportunity heading just wide off another freekick by Muscat.
One minute in the second half, Gzira took the lead when Maxuell had a shot deflected by Morales and Jefferson de Assis slotted the ball past goalkeeper Ruiz.
The visitors levelled matters on the 64th minute when off a corner by Cistero, the ball was deflected by Jefferson and Guillaume Silvain Lopez slammed the ball home past the Gzira goalkeeper.
The second leg is scheduled for Thursday 14 at the Estadi Nacional in Andorra la Vella at 19:00.
GZIRA Darien Radelic-Zarkov, Gabriel Bohrer Mentz, Nikolai Muscat, Zach Scerri, Marcelo Dias, Luis Riascos (74’ Clive Gauci), Tonio Kolega, Marko Cosic, Maxuell Maia, Jefferson de Assis (78’ Emmanuel Mbong), Jackson Mendoza (60’ Ricardo Correa.
ATLETIC D’ESCALDES Alejandro Ruiz Campagna, Aleix Pistero, Alexandre Sanchez Rodriguez, Hamza Bouharma (68’ Xavi Puerto), Guillaume Silvain Lopez (90’ David Rodriguez Lopez), Jorge Bolivar Cano (68’ Alex Martinez), Victor Alfonso Maffeo Becerra (90’ Eric Ruiz Naranjo), Ivan Garrido Ciaurriz, Javier Morales Aguilera, Victor Perez Alonso (82’ Gemelos Nayry Fay Bill Vieira), Victor Alonso Madueno.
Referee: Zaven Hovhannisyan (ARM)
Assistant Referees: Mesrop Ghazaryan, Atom Sevgulyan (ARM)
Fourth Official: Ashot Ghaltakhchyan (ARM)