The Malta Independent 20 August 2019, Tuesday

Champions League qualifier: Two set-piece goals put Hibernians on right track

Silvio Vella Wednesday, 28 June 2017, 06:07 Last update: about 3 years ago




Hibernians: A. Hogg, R. Garcia, J. Lima (D. Vella), R. Soares, M. Dias, B. Kristensen, C. Failla, J. Bezzina, A. Agius, Jorginho (J. Degabriele), M. Sahanek (J. Mbong)


FCI Tallinn: M. Igonen, R. Nesterovski ( A. Kalimulin), V. Avilov, A. Volodin, J. Harin (S. Tumasyan), K. Nesterov (V. Voskoboinikov), A. Kulinits, P. Domov, D. Kruglov, A. Dmitrijev, A. Prosa

Referee: F. San (Switzerland)

Scorers: Jorginho 63, B. Kristensen 73

Yellow cards: R. Garcia, C. Failla, A. Kalimulin, A. Dmitrijev, V. Voskoboinikov

Attendance: 1,068



Champions Hibernians beat FCI Tallinn from Estonia thanks to the two well-executed set-pieces by Jorginho and Kristensen in the second half to win their Champions League 1st Round Qualifying Round at Hibernians stadium yetserday.

Hibernians were outplayed in the early stages, and had to thank their goalkeeper Andrew Hogg for saving Nesterov’s penalty in the opening minutes and the woodwork for holding out Domov’s effort on the half hour. But the locals finished the half very well and threatened to take the lead shortly before the break, going close on a couple of occasions.

Hibernians continued to exploit that in the second half and claimed a strong chance of winning here – as they managed to stem the flow of Tallinn’s attacks and also get more of a grip in midfield, where Kirill Nesterov, in particular, had threatened to run the show in the first half.

Their efforts were rewarded with two goals within ten minutes after the half hour.

After conceding twice, Tallinn ran completely out of and Hibernians looked strong enough to score more goals and take a more comfortable lead for the return leg in a week’s time.

Hibernians were well aware that this would be a tough assignment against Estonian opponents from a league, six places above Malta in the UEFA coefficient.

Tallinn had six Russian players in their squad, playing with a 4-1-4-1 formation set up by their coach Aleksandr Pustov.

The Maltese champions, wearing all white, had that familiar look about them with their starting eleven showing only one new face – that of Austrian offensive mifielder Marco Sahanek.

Dias, Soares, Rui Garcia and Failla formed the four-man backline, with Andrei Agius playing in an insolitary role of anchor man in front of the defence, alongside Kristenesen. Lima and Bezzina played wide in midfield, flanking Sahanek, who supported Jorginho in attack.

Hibernians struggled to keep up with Tallinn’s early pressure as the visitors enjoyed territorial dominance and pinned the locals inside their own half. For the first 20 minutes Hibernians failed to progress beyond the halfway line.

Tallinn’s passing and movement was leaving Miller’s men chasing desperately.

(Photos Domenic Aquilina)

The Paolites conceded a penalty within the first four minutes when Rui Garcia was adjudged to have pushed an opponent inside the area. Keeper Hogg stretched himslef to hold out Nesterov’s low drive from teh spot and deny Tallinn an early lead.

Midway through the half, Hibernians were gradually getting into their groove, controlling more possession although they created precious littlle, with Kristensen and Agius failing to look authorative in midfield.

Their opponents agian looked meancing on the half hour. Domov thumped his shot from the edge of the area against the bar with Hogg beaten.

The Hibernians keeper rushed off his area to kick the ball away, before the advancing Kulinits could reach for it, to smother the danger nine minutes later.

But Hibernians ended the first half on the attack, winning two corners which the Tallinn defence cleared. A Bezzina shot from a distance took a wicked deflection but keeper Igoenen held the ball out with a reflex save. And in added time, the ball fell to Jorginho, who could only hit fractionally wide.

Tallinn made another strong start in the second half. A good move on 53 minutes almost gave them the lead, with Nesterov playing the ball wide to the unmarked Prosa, who shot feebly.

The goal came on the other end though as Hibernians won a free kick outside the Tallinn area past the hour. Sahanek’s inswinging high ball was headed in by Jorginho.

Giving their opponents no chance to recover, Hibernians rumbled forward and ten minutes later, they won a corner on the right, which was taken by Sahanek for Bjorn Kristensen to flick the ball with his head, slightly deflected by a Tallinn defender over the line.

Hibernians, who substituted Sahanek with Joseph Mbong, made more canny probing as Tallinn looked completely on the rack.

Four minutes from time, Hibernians could have made sure of qualification with a third goal. Lima’s deep cross from the right was headed down by Jorginho towards Mbong who sliced the ball in the keeper’s hands.

The Paolites retreated to avoid conceding and Prosa’s tame effort was held out by keeper Hogg.

But Hibernians were the stronger side in five minutes of added time. Other substitute Degabriele  ran in for Mbong’s pass but Igonen saved. And again Mbong was denied by the Tallinn keeper before the final whistle.

The return in Tallinn looks a promising prospect for the Maltese champions though.

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