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Gzira through to Conference League third qualifying round after late Wilkson goal

Gzira United have progressed into the next round of the UEFA Europa Conference League. Photo: Domenic Borg

Maroons through 3-2 on aggregate


Hadji 38, 84

GZIRA UNITED               1

Wilkson 87

(Gzira United through 3-2 on aggregate)


D. Desprez, D. Kuete (64 Y. Schaus), I. Sidibe, V. Decker, K. Delorge, F. Bojic (74 I. Englaro), B. Freire (89 M. Thomas), E. Agovic, J. Ouassiero (89 S. Altun), S. Hadji, O. van Lingen.

GZIRA UNITED D. Cassar, Thiaguinho, C. Chaba, A. Borg (85 G. Metz), M. Dias, F. Romero, Macula (77 Ewertton), Z. Scerii, B. Borg, Wilkson, J. Mendoza.

Referee Yigal Frid (Israel FA).

Yellow cards Wilkson, Bojic, Cassar.

Gzira United made it into the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League on Wednesday.

As expected, the Maroons looked to exploit their first-leg advantage and keep Dudelange hoping to close the aggregate margin at home.

In fact, the Luxembourg side were the ones on the ball for most of the first half with Gzira holding back, looking for the possibility of a counterattack.

Dudelange threatened first on the third minute when a through was placed into the Maroons’ area but Jean Ouassiero’s effort with the outside of the foot went wide as his teammates asked for a penalty.

Three minutes later, they tried again but Filip Bojic’s long-distance shot was well off target. Samir Hadji forced David Cassar’s first save, seconds later in another Dudelange attack as it seemed to be turning into a game dominated by them.

Gzira on their part, were just as comfortable administering their first-leg lead and frustrating their opponents who could not find the target no matter how hard they tried.

However, 38 minutes in Dudelange found a way in, when from a Hadji freekick, the ball was deflected below the wall and into the bottom corner as the home side finally found reaped a reward for all their first-half troubles.

Gzira took in their first shot towards goal in the 44th minute when Jackson Mendoza shot from range, but his effort went well over.

Straight after, Dudelange could have made it two but Hadji mistimed his header from a cross towards the back post, the Dudelange forward sending the ball into the side netting.

After the break, it was similar proceedings, and 54 minutes in, referee Yigal Frid waved away protests for a penalty when Hadji appeared to fall inside the area during an effort on goal. Instead, a corner was given which Gzira blocked away from harm.

The pressure from the Luxembourg side continued to mount and six minutes from time, Dudelange drew level on aggregate when a dipping cross found Hadji yet again who punished Gzira with a pinpoint header right into the net.

But against the run of play, Gzira made it 2-1 on 87 minutes when their gameplan finally came to fruition with a counterattack leading to a similar cross with Wilkson heading the ball towards goal. Just when the effort looked heading out, the ball swerved into the net via the post.

The Maroons were back on top with just injury time remaining and they held on to progress to the third stage of qualifying.

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