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Hibernians progress to third round for second straight year in Europa Conference League


Oigus 79

HIBERNIANS                    1

Apap 78

(Aggregate 3-4).


K. Vallner; I. Antonov (82 R. Peetson), M. Ugge, M. Mitrovic, A. Pikk (73 K. Oigus), M. Putincanin, B. Lepistu, M. Velijev (73 Lilliu), Z. Beglarishvili (65 M. Roosnupp), E. Agyiri, R. Kirss.


I.Kone; F. Apap, R. Soares, G. Llerna, G. Artilles, Thaylor (81 Z. Grech), D. Vella, A. Diakite, J. Grech (85 G. Mensah), J. Degabriele, T. Groothusen (54 Y. Muritala).

Referee: Henrik Nalbandyan (Armenia FA).

Yellow cards: Apap, Ugge, Artiles, Roosnupp.

Hibernians have made it to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League for the second consecutive time at the expense of Estonia’s Levadia Tallinn.

A draw was enough for the Maltese champions to progress after defeating the same opponents 3-2 in last week’s first leg at the Centenary Stadium.

The Paolites put on a strong showing in the Estonia’s capital with defender Ferdinando Apap finding the net in the final part of the game.

In a repetition of last week’s affair, Levadia managed to find the net immediately to throw the qualification wide open again.

However, Andrea Pisanu’s side proved difficult to break down to achieve another important result for their club.

An encouraging result for the Italian coach who in his three European games in charge of the Maltese side since taking over from Stefano Sanderra, has now recorded two draws and one victory besides a qualification in this round.

Hibernians will now face FK RFS of Latvia in the next round, with the Maltese representatives set to play the first leg away from home.

For this game, coach Pisanu made one change to his starting formation with Thaylor replacing Zachary Grech.

Forward Terence Groothusen had a brilliant chance to send Hibernians ahead but his low drive was smothered by Levadia Tallin’s goalkeeper, after 14 minutes.

Moments later, the Paolites had another clear cut opportunity through Gabriel Artiles but could not find the target from inside the penalty area.

Levadia Tallinn’s first noteworthy chance came through the feet of defender Maximilian Ugge who tried his luck with a volley that was blocked by Hibernians’ goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone, on the 36th minute.

Hibernians looked in control over the first 45 minutes as there were no goals to divide both them and the hosts at half-time.

After the change of ends, Hibernians effected an immediate change with Aruba international Groothusen making way for Yunusa Muritala, who scored in last week’s 3-2 win against the same opponents.

Hibernians were pushing for an opener and they came close through clinical finisher Jurgen Degabriele who let fly a first timer from the edge of the area just to be denied by Levadia’s goalkeeper.

In search of a goal that would level the hosts with Hibernians, Levadia Tallinn deployed former Birkirkara and Gżira United striker Lilliu.

On the 78th minute, Hibernians though they had wrapped up qualification when Ferdinando Apap headed home a corner-kick to open a two-goal lead on aggregate for the Maltese champions.

However, their joy was cut short when Levadia Tallinn equalised immediately through substitute Karl Oigus who found the net from point-blank range with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Despite Levadia’s attempts of a late rally, Hibernians managed to hold their ground and preserve their one-goal lead to advance to the next round.


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