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Watch: Ten-man Spartans beaten by Lincoln Red Imps in Champions League opener

Lincoln Red Imps players celebrate their goal against Ħamrun Spartans. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli



Britto 37


H. Bonello, J. Corbalan, S. Borg, Mayron (46 Eder), R. Camenzuli (85 M. Ellul), Elionay, Marcelina, R. Prsa, W. Barros (80 Talison), J. Mbong (68 L. Montebello), R. Lopes (85 V. Manarin).


N. Santana, E. Britto (79 P. Jose), B. Lopes, J. Sergeant, Nano, Joe (79 G. Torrilla), T. De Barr (85 C. Alvarez), D. Bent, I. Ayew (68 R. Munoz), V. Villacanas Morales (70 L. Casciaro), Kike.

Referee Aleksandar Stavrev (Macedonia).

Yellow cards: Kike, Borg, Marcelina, De Barr, Bent, Ayew, Nauzat.

Red card: Elionay (Ħ) 9, Kike 44.

Ħamrun Spartans are on the back foot in their quest of progressing in this season’s Champions League after suffering a 1-0 defeat in the first qualifying round first leg tie at the Centenary Stadium.

A fine strike from Lincoln winger Britto handed Lincoln Red Imps the advantage in the tie in a match which saw both teams finish with ten men.

The Spartans were surely handicapped by the dismissal of Brazilian midfielder Elionay Freitas who was shown a straight red card after only nine minutes that left the team playing for the whole first half with a player less.

When Lincoln had Kike sent off just before the break, the Spartans were handed a way back into the match and they completely dominated the second half.

However, they could not find a way past Lincoln goalkeeper Santiago Nauzat and must come back from a goal down in next week’s second leg if they are to progress to a second qualifying round tie with Azeri giants Qarabag.

Ħamrun coach Alessandro Zinnari roped in three new signings in defender Mayron, winger Wendell Barros and forward Raphael Lopes.

The match was evenly-balanced early on but the Spartans suffered a major blow after nine minutes when Elionay was shown a straight red card for a rash challenge on Bent.

Despite being a man down, the Spartans were managing to control well the proceedings, leaving little room for Lincoln to pose any danger to henry Bonello’s goal.

The match remain devoid of scoring opportunities as both teams seemed to lack any flair when pushing forward.

The match finally came to life in the final stages of the first half and it was Lincoln who took the lead in their first real scoring opportunity.

Ethan Britto finds space on the left channel and sprints inside the area before hitting a curling drive that gave no chance to Henry Bonello.

The goal was a real blow for the Spartans who tried to fight their way back into the match.

Numerical parity was restored on 44 minutes when Kike was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Joseph Mbong and was dismissed.

In stoppage time, it looked as though the Spartans suffered another blow when the referee pointed to the spot as he felt that Marcelina had upended De Barr inside the area but the VAR officials recalled the referee to view the incident on the monitor.

In the end, referee Aleksandar Stavrev changed his decision as De Barr was booked for simulation.

After the break, Zinnari roped in Brazilian midfielder Eder for defender Mayron and the new entrant gave added energy to the Spartans who were all over their opponents.

For all their possession the Spartans have to wait until the hour mark to threaten when Wendell Barros’s shot is saved easily by the Lincoln goalkeeper.

Ħamrun’s best chance came on 64 minutes when Raphael Lopes won a free-kick on the edge of the area and the Brazilian saw his curling drive tipped over by Nauzat.

From the resulting corner, Marcelina’s header was turned goalwards by Steve Borg and Eder’s sot was deviated to another corner kick.

The Spartans had another good chance on 77 minutes Corbalan’s low cross is headed over from close in by Prsa.

The Spartans had an even better chance on 84 minutes when Eder found Prsa inside the area and the Croatian midfielder set up Corbalan who was denied by Nauzat.

In the final minutes the Spartans tried to step up the pressure but Lincoln managed to hold on for a precious win.

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