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Viktoria Plzen too strong for Gżira United in Conference League

VIKTORIA PLZEN           4

Bucha 10 ; Durosinmi 23

Sulc 73; Kopic 90

GŻIRA UNITED                 0

VIKTORIA PLZEN

J. Stanek; L. Hejda, R. Hranac, S. Dweh, E. Jirka, P. Bucha (75 A. Vlkanova), L. Kalvach, Cadu (75 J. Kopic), R. Durosinmi (57 J. Kliment), P. Sulc (75 I. Traore), T. Chory.

GŻIRA UNITED

D. Cassar; M. Dias, C. Chaba, G. Mentz, T. Espindola, J. Mendoza (79 L. Riascos), F. Romero, B. Borg (90 D. Pace), R. Essaka (46 A. Borg), Z. Scerri (86 Ewertton), Wilkson (79 B. Azizi).

Referee Vilhjalmur Thorarinsson (Iceland FA).

Yellow cards Mendoza, Chaba, Ewertton.  

Viktoria Plzen’s superiority came to the fore as they secured a comfortable 4-0 win over Gżira United in the first leg of the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

The Czech side, who have already played three league games – picking up four points – dominated the proceedings and will rue their chances for not taking a bigger lead to next week’s encounter in Malta.

As expected, Gżira found the going tough against a side that last year featured in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and is one of the usual contenders for the Czech title.

For this difficult European encounter, Gżira coach Darren Abdilla welcomed back Gabriel Mentz into his usual central defender position while Luis Riascos was also available for selection but started on the bench.

Upfront, Ryan Essaka was given the nod as Lucas Macula was serving a one-game ban.

Ewertton, who started all previous European games, and Andy Borg were among the players forming bench.

Jackson Mendoza tested Viktoria Plzen’s goalkeeper inside the first two minutes with a long-range effort but it was not enough to put the Maroons ahead.

Viktoria Plzen recorded the first chance of the game on the ninth minute when Pavel Sulc hit a strike from the edge of the area but David Cassar was alert to avert the danger.

A minute later, the Czech side forged ahead when Pavel Bucha’s cross went straight past goalkeeper Cassar and put the hosts in the driving seat.

The Czech side were forced to make an early substitution with midfielder Jhon Mosquera replacing Erik Jirka after picking up a knock.

Cassar denied Bucha a second goal, punching his fierce strike into a corner as Plzen’s pressure continued to intensify.

The Maltese goalkeeper, though, could do nothing to deny Rafiu Durosinmi who slotted into the far post from close-range, for his second goal in this competition.

Gżira could have pulled one back through Carlos Chaba but the former Tarxien Rainbows defender failed to convert Zach Scerri’s freekick into goal from inside the small area.

Lukas Kalvach and Lukas Hejda were both unfortunate not to extend Plzen’s lead after having their efforts kept out by the crossbar before Sampson Dweh also hit the woodwork with a close-range header.

Just before half-time, Tomas Chory fired a close-range volley but his effort sailed over the bar before the same forward missed the target with a low drive as Plzen maintained their two-goal lead at the break.

After the exchange of ends, Gżira made one change with Malta U-19’s Andy Borg replacing Essaka.

Chory, desperate to put his name on the scoresheet, came close to find Plzen’s third but once again his effort failed to hit the target.

The hosts continued to try and find a third with substitute Jan Kliment trying his luck from long distance, once again failing to beat Cassar.

Plzen’s third arrived 15 minutes from time when Sulc slotted past Cassar, making the hosts’ pressure count.

In the dying minutes, Plzen scored their fourth goal through Jan Kopic who beat Cassar from inside the penalty area.

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