ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 1
(Ferencvaros win 8-2 on aggregate)
A. Varga, H. Wingo (46 E. Civic), I. Cisse, M. Knoester (74 M. Abena), L. Paszka, D. Siger, M. Abu Fani (81 A. Gojak), T. Nguen (60 Marquinhos), K. Zachariassen, B. Varga, A. Traore (61 K. Lisztes).
F. Marchetti, O. Bjelicic, E. Marcelina, K. Bilic, J. Mbong (38 R. Camenzuli), J. Corbalan, Y. Nenov (63 Eder), N. Krstic, Elionay (80 S. Attard), S. Paintsil (80 S. Borg), L. Montebello (63 Jonny).
Referee Georgi Davidov (Bulgaria).
Yellow cards Mbong, Bjelicic, Corbalan.
Ħamrun Spartans bowed out of the UEFA Conference League after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Ferencvaros in the third qualifying round second leg tie in Hungary.
After last week’s heavy 6-1 defeat at the National Stadium, there was absolutely no chance for the Malta champions to battle for a place in Play Off round of the competition.
But still, the Reds took the field for yesterday’s second leg with a positive mindset to try and upset their opponents and Joseph Mbong raised their hopes of a win when putting them ahead after six minutes of play.
However, as the minutes passed, Ferencvaros grew in stature and Adama Traore pulled them level just before the break before Barnabas Varga netted the winner to hand the Hungarian side not only the win but the tie 8-2 on aggregate.
Despite the elimination, there were still a lot of positives to take for the Maltese side from this summer’s participation, particularly having managed a top side like Dinamo Tbilisi, of Georgia, in the second qualifying round.
No doubt the Spartans will be looking for more domestic success next season with a view to having another shot at a possible qualification to the group stages of a UEFA club competition.
Ħamrun Spartans coach Luciano Zauri was forced to make a few changes to his starting formation. Karlo Bilic was drafted in the central three-man defence at the expense of Steve Borg while Juan Corbalan was preferred to Ryan Camenzuli.
In midfield, Nemanja Krstic filled the void left by the suspended Roko Prsa while upfront, Luke Montebello, who scored the Spartans’ only goal last week, started ahead of Jonny. Montenegrin forward Uros Djuranovic was ruled out as he served completed his two-match ban.
Ferencvaros dominated possession early on but it was the Spartans who struck after six minutes of play.
Montebello made space for himself on the left and sent a fine cross towards Joseph Mbong who adjusted his body to volley the ball past Ferencvaros goalkeeper Adam Varga.
The home side tried to respond to that early setback and on nine minutes Tokmac Nguen dispossessed Emerson Marcelina with the ball falling to Barnabas Varga who with only Michele Marchetti to beat he lobbed the ball just wide.
The Ħamrun Spartans goalkeeper had to be alert on 26 minutes to keep out Varga’s effort after the Ferencvaros forward connected to Abu Fani’s delivery from a free-kick.
Just past the half hour mark, Abu Fani hit a firm drive that was well pushed away by Federico Marchetti.
Eight minutes from the break, Zauri was forced to make his first change as Mbong failed to recover from a knock and was replaced by Ryan Camenzuli.
Ferencvaros managed to draw level five minutes from the break when Varga beat the offside trap and chipped the ball into the path of Traore who headed past Marchetti.
The Spartans started the second half brightly when Montebello played in Camenzuli but the amrun wingback was anticipated by the onrushing goalkeeper Varga.
But it was the home side who were unlucky not to take the lead five minutes into the second half when David Siger won possession and unleashed a powerful drive that came off the bar.
Abu Fani continued to threaten with his deliveries and shots on target and on 63 minutes his curling drive just missed the upright.
Ferencvaros turned the result in their favour on 68 minutes when substitute Marquinhos raced past Bjelicic and fed Varga who tapped the ball home.
The home side kept pushing for more and 18 minutes from time, Marchetti was at his best to tip over Abu Fani’s curling drive from a free-kick.
The Italian goalkeeper continued to distinguish himself when he denied Lisztes from routine distance as the home side cruised to victory.
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