Improved Spartans lose narrowly in Haifa

Hamrun Spartans bowed out of the UEFA Champions League after losing 2-1 to Maccabi Haifa in the second leg of the first qualifying round at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa on Tuesday.

Maccabi, therefore, qualify for the second qualifying round with a 6-1 aggregate score and will be facing either Sheriff Tiraspol or Farul Costanta. Hamrun, on the other hand, move to the UEFA Europa Conference League where they would be facing the eliminated side between Astana and Dinamo Tbilisi, who will be in action on Wednesday.

Hamrun coach Luciano Zauri opted for two changes from the team which lost 0-4 in the first leg as Joseph Mbong and Yuliyan Nenov were named in the starting line-up.

The Spartans took the lead on the 32nd minute when Joseph Mbong took full advantage of a back pass by a defender and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Itamar Nitzan.

Maccabi, however, levelled matters on the 69th. Sabia exchanged the ball with Haziza, sending him through on the left and the latter squared low for Erik Shuranov to slot the ball home past Marchetti. 

Maccabi Haifa notched the winner six minutes from time when off an assist by Haziza from the left, Frantzdy Pierrot hit home past the helpless Marchetti.

MACCABI HAIFA  Itamar Nitzan, Lior Refaelov (61’ Tjaronn Chery), Ori Dahan, Goni Naor (46’ Ali Mohamed), Erik Shuranov (74’ Frantzdy Pierrot), Maor Kandil (60’ Dolev Haziza), Mahmoud Jaber, Pierre Cornud, Ilai Hagag (46’ Daniel Sundgren), Abdoulaye Seck, Diaa Sabia.

HAMRUN Federico Marchetti, Steve Borg (89’ Karlo Bilic), Joseph Mbong (78’ Juan Corbalan), Roko Prsa, Elionay (64’ Seth Paintsil), Yuliyan Nenov (46’ Ederson Bruno Domingos), Uros Djuranovic, Ognjen Bjelicic, Emerson Marcelina, Ryan Camenzuli, Jonny. (78’ Nemanja Krstic)

Referee: Igor Pajac CRO
Assistant referees: Hrvoje Radic, Kristijan Novosel CRO
Fourth official: Ante Culina CRO
Video Assistant Referee: Duje Strukan CRO
Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Ivan Bebek CRO