DINAMO TBILISI 0
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 1
(Ħamrun Spartans win 3-1 on aggregate)
G. Loria, G. Maisuradze (46 N. Mali), S. Khvadagiani, A. Kalandadze, D. Kobouri (47 L. Lakvekheliani), A. Mekvabishvili, B. Osei (57 G. Moistrsraphishvili), G. Kharaishvili, O. Omar, O. Camara (74 L. Odisharia), Z. Marusic.
E. Marchetti, S. Borg (90 K. Bilic), E. Marcelina, O. Bjelicic, J. Mbong (75 J. Corbalan), R. Camenzuli, Eder (57 Y. Nenov), R. Prsa, Elionay (57 N. Krstic), U. Djuranovic, S. Paintsil (75 Jonny).
Referee Viktor Shimusik (Belarus).
Yellow cards Osei, Marchetti.
Red card: Djuranovic (Ħ) 45.
Ħamrun Spartans put on a lion-hearted performance as a goal by Uros Djuranovic earned them an impressive 1-0 win over Dinamo Tbilisi to book their place into the third qualifying round of the UEFA Conference League.
This was an impressive performance from the Malta champions who managed to shout out their opponents despite having to play for the whole second half with a player less after the controversial dismissal of striker Djuranovic.
The Montenegrin forward was shown the red card in the tunnel at the half-time break after the Dinamo Tbilisi coach Giorgi Tchiabrishvili hit him during a confrontation.
But the sending-off only served to further motivate the Ħamrun Spartans players who kept defending valiantly to hold on to a stunning victory that earned them a 3-1 aggregate win over the Georgia champions.
The reward for the Spartans is another tough tie in the third qualifying round against Hungarian champions Ferencvaros who ousted Shamrock Rovers.
Ħamrun Spartans took some time to settle down as the home side, as expected, came out with all guns blazing, pressing high their opponents.
In fact, the Malta champions struggled to keep hold of the ball with the home side threatening with their quick insertions on the wings, particularly through Ousmane Camara.
Dinamo were enjoying long spells of possession but the Spartans were showing good defensive organisation to keep out the Tbilisi forwards.
The home side finally threatened on 26 minutes when skipper Azor Mekvabishivli was found by Kobouri but his header was deflected wide.
Ħamrun’s first foray at the Dinamo goal arrived on 27 minutes when Eder played in Ryan Camenzuli who saw his cross somehow blocked by the home defence and the wingback fired into the side-netting from the rebound.
Ten minutes from the break Kharaishvili pulled towards the centre and hit a firm drive that was well saved by Federico Marchetti.
Ħamrun responded on 39 minutes when they won a central free-kick but Roko Prsa’s shot was deflected just over.
The Spartans took a crucial lead four minutes into stoppage time when Seth Paintsil stole the ball and sped on the right flank before sending a cross into the path of Uras Djuranovic. The Montenegrin striker controlled the ball and fired a fierce volley into the corner to the delight of the Maltese clan.
When the Spartans took the pitch for the second half they were with a player less as Djuranovic was shown the red card after a clash with Dinamo Tbilisi coach in the tunnel to leave his team with ten men for the second half.
Despite being with a man down, the Spartans tried to defensive organisation and for the first 15 minutes of the second half, the home side never threatened Marchetti in the Ħamrun Spartans’ goal.
Dinamo were stepping up the pressure, launching wave after wave of attacks but the Spartans defenders were defending valiantly.
Twenty minutes from time, Marchetti had to be at his best to push the ball away after Mbong tried to block a cross from Kharaishvili.
On 78 minutes Moistrsapishvili tried a curler from the edge of the area but the ball flew over.
Two minutes later, it was Odisharia who also tried his luck and his shot just missed the bar.
The Georgian side were getting closer and closer and ten minutes from time Kharaishvili hit a thumping drive that came off the upright.
Ħamrun finally threatened four minutes from time but Nenov’s shot was too central to create any danger to Loria.
On the other hand, Marchetti was at his best to keep out Skhirtladze’s shot from the distance.
The Italian shot-stopper was again decisive in the sixth minute of stoppage time when he kept out Marusic’s header and from the rebound, Khairashvili saw the ball hit the upright as the Spartans held on to a memorable win.
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