Hamrun Spartans were just a few seconds away from earning another positive result in their UEFA Europa Conference League campaign but a goal five minutes in added time handed PFC Levski Sofia of Bulgaria a narrow win in the first leg of the third qualifying round on Thursday.
The Bulgarians therefore take home a narrow lead ahead of the second leg scheduled for Thursday 11 at the Stadion Georgi Asparuhov in Sofia with the winner proceeding to the play-off round where they would face the loser of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round clash between AEK Larnaca FC of Cyprus and FK Partizan of Serbia.
Levski could have taken the lead on the 11th minute when they were awarded a penalty after a foul by Matthew Guillaumier on Bari but Filip Krastev’s effort hit the foot of the upright.
The Bulgarians maintained the initiative but on the 29th, the Spartans threatened with a Dodo header which was tipped into a corner by Mihaylov. Levski went close once again on the 38th with a header by Wanderson which scraped past the post following a corner by Milanov from the right.
On the hour, Hamrun went close to forging ahead when Guillaumier released Jonny on the right and off the latter’s assist, Dodo’s close range effort was blocked by the Levski goalkeeper.
For the rest of the second half, the Spartans kept their opponents under control but five minutes in added time, Filip Krastev received an assist from the right and controlled the ball well before hitting home past goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
HAMRUN Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier, Elvis Mashike (68′ Igor Nedeljkovic), Ailton Jorge Soares ‘Dodo’ (81′ Bruno Ederson Domingos), Roko Prsa (82′ Luke Montebello), Ognjen Bjelicic, Juan Carlos Corbalan (88′ Karl Micallef), Jonny Robert do Nascimento (68′ Mousa Balla Sowe), Emerson Marcelina, Ryan Camenzuli.
LEVSKI Nikolay Mihaylov, Jeremy Arnaud Petris, Kelian Van Der Kaap, Wanderson de Freitas Soares, Georgi Milanov (80′ Andrian Kraev), Welton Felipe, Ronaldo Soares dos Santos (77′ Marin Plamenov Petkov), Bilal Bari (80′ Ilyan Stefanov), Noah Sonko Sundberg, Filip Krastev, Jose Cordoba Chambers.
Referee: Willy Delajod FRA
Assistant referees: Erwan Finjean, Philippe Jeanne FRA
Fourth official: Thomas Leonard FRA