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Watch: Macula, Scerri combine to put Gżira in command against Dudelange in Conference League

GŻIRA UNITED              2

Macula 55

Scerri 79


GŻIRA UNITED             

D. Cassar, M. Dias, F. Romero, T. Espindola, C. Chaba, B. Borg, Z. Scerri, A. Borg, L. Macula, J. Mendoza, Wilkson (77 R. Essaka).

DUDELANGE: D. Desprez, J. Diouf, V. Decker, K. Delorge, D. Kuete, E. Agovic (82 Y. Schaus), B. Frere, O. Van Lingen, S. Ouassiero (69 F. Bojic), S. Hadji (82 H. Moussaki), Y. Roemer.

Referee Tomas Kilma (Czech Republic).

Yellow cards: Roemer, Mendoza, Macula.

Red card: Roemer (D) 60.

Gżira United put themselves in a strong position to match last season’s historic feat in the UEFA Conference League as the Maroons scored two second-half goals to overcome Dudelange, of Luxembourg, at the Centenary Stadium.

It was a stunning performance from the Maroons who followed their tactical plan to perfection as they were happy to soak up the pressure of their opponents and hit them with quick transition play.

Lucas Makula gave the Maroons the lead with a fine individual effort before Zack Scerri scored an even better goal when he fired home a second to put his team with a commanding two-goal lead ahead of next week’s second leg in Luxembourg.

No doubt, this result will inject a lot of confidence in the Gżira United players that they can match their performance in Europe last season when they reached the third qualifying round for the first time in their history.

Gżira United coach Darren Abdilla effected one change from the team that beat Glentoran in a dramatic shoot-out last week as Andy Borg started ahead of Ewertton who had to settle with a place on the bench.

Abdilla could not guide his team from the bench after his red card in last week’s match in Northern Ireland, thus his assistant Andrew Cohen was given the task of giving his players instructions from the touchline.

As expected it was the Luxembourg side who took control of the match with their slick passing play but still struggled to break down a compact Gżira United defence.

It was Gżira who had the first attempt at goal on 17 minutes when they won a free-kick on the edge of the area but Jackson Mendoza’s shot finished over.

Scoring chances remained few and far between as both teams were more focused on booting the ball away from their goal than trying to create scoring chances.

In fact, by the half hour mark, neither goalkeeper had been called to effect one save.

On 35 minutes, Gżira United had an inviting opportunity as Jackson Mendoza’s through ball saw Macula outpace his marker but the forward failed to control the ball just as he was entering inside the area and the chance went abegging.

On the stroke of half-time, Dudelange almost scored when Sylvio Ouassiero sent a cross into the path of Samir Hadji who saw his header coming off the upright before David Cassar blocked the ball.

Just before the break, Macula stormed clear on the right, his cross was deflected into the path of Zack Scerri who, however, volleyed the ball over.

Wilkson should have given Gżira United the lead five minutes into the second half as he was put clear inside the area by his fellow Brazilian team-mate Thiago Espindola but the forward saw his shot blocked by the onrushing Desprez.

Gżira’s efforts were rewarded with an opener on 55 minutes when Lucas Macula sped through the Dudelange defence and let fly a firm low drive that gave no chance to Desprez.

Four minutes later, Dudelange suffered another blow when Roemer, who had already been booked in the first half, received a second yellow card and was dismissed for a foul on Espindola.

Dudelange finally threatened on 72 minutes through a Bruno Frere shot that was pushed away by Cassar.

The Luxembourg side threatened again three minutes later but this time substitute Filip Bojic fired wide.

Gżira finally made their numerical advantage count with a super goal from Zack Scerri to all but seal the match.

Thiago Espindola sent the ball into the path of Scerri who hit the ball first-time and send it into the top corner of the net.

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