Hamrun Spartans suffered a 4-1 defeat to FK Partizan in the first leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League play-off round at the Stadion Partizana in Belgrade on Thursday.
A score which puts Partizan close to securing a spot in the group stage of the competition after being eliminated from the UEFA Europa League by AEK Larnaca last week.
Hamrun had a good start but conceded three goals in eighteen minutes for Partizan to take a comfortable lead. After having a goal disallowed before the end of the first half, Branko Nisevic’s side hit back with a goal early in the second half but Partizan scored another to retain a comfortable lead ahead of the second leg.
Photos © Domenic Aquilina/Hamrun Spartans FC
The Spartans went close to scoring after just five minutes when Steve Borg sent Jonny through on the right and the latter rounded a defender before hitting low with the ball being deflected into a corner.
The hosts, however, managed to take the lead on the 15th minute when off a cross by Zivkovic from the right, Menig served Ricardo Gomes who rounded Bonello and placed the ball at the back of the net.
Ten minutes later, Partizan doubled the score when off a Zivkovic corner from the right, Vujacic headed the ball into the direction of Slobodan Urosevic who headed home from close range.
Partizan increased the lead on the 33rd when in a swift counter-attack, just after Jonny appeared to be brought down inside the area, Menig served Andrade on the right and the latter squared low for Foussein Diabate to hit low past Bonello.
One minute in added time, a Roko Prsa freekick was partially saved by Popovic and Juan Corbalan placed the ball at the back of the net but the referee disallowed the goal for a foul by Jonny on the goalkeeper.
The Spartans were not to be denied seven minutes in the second half when off a corner from the right by Ederson Bruno Domingos, Matthew Guillaumier headed home past Popovic.
Five minutes later, the Partizan goalkeeper came to the rescue with a fine save on a header by Guillaumier following a cross by Prsa from the left.
However, Partizan made it 4-1 on the 77th minute when Zivkovic intecepted a pass by Camenzuli on the right and served Patrick Andrade who exchanged the ball with Ricardo before hitting low past Bonello.
In the dying minutes, Hamrun pressed for a second goal but a Luke Montebello effort was blocked by the goalkeeper and Elvis Mashike had a header ending high.
The second leg is scheduled for Thursday 25 at the National Stadium, kick-off at 20:00.
PARTIZAN Aleksandar Popovic, Sinisa Sanicanin, Igor Vujacic, Svetozar Markovic, Patrick Andrade (82’ Nemanja Jovic), Queensy Menig (59′ Kristijan Belic), Ricardo (90’ Nikola Terzic), Ljubomir Fejsa, Marko Zivkovic, Foussein Diabate (90’ Samed Bazdar), Slobodan Urosevic.
HAMRUN Henry Bonello, Ederson Bruno Domingos (72’ Luke Montebello), Steve Borg, Matthew Guillaumier, Roko Prsa, Ognjen Bjelicic, Juan Carlos Corbalan (78’ Mousa Balla Sowe), Igor Nedeljkovic (46′ Elvis Mashike), Jonny Robert do Nascimento (72’ Ailton Jorge Soares ’Dodo’), Emerson Marcelina, Ryan Camenzuli.
Referee: Filip Glova SVK
Assistant Referees: Peter Bednar, Daniel Polacek SVK
Fourth Official: Michal Ocenas SVK