The Malta Independent 15 July 2024, Monday
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Heroic Spartans: Hamrun beat Levski Sofia to move to the play-off stages of Conference League

Friday, 12 August 2022, 07:51 Last update: about 3 years ago

Hamrun Spartans wrote a golden chapter yesterday, not only for themselves but for the whole Maltese football, becoming the first local side to make it to the playoff stages of the UEFA Europa Conference League.

It was a heroic per4formance for the Spartans who started the match against all odds after the bitter and undeserved defeat at Ta’ Qali seven days ago.

But Hamrun managed to contain their opponents, who as expected had more of the ball especially in the opening stages of the game.

But Hamrun never lost their heads and played a majestic match with Emerson Marcelina in splendid form.

Then late in the second half, coach Branko Nisevic changed the striking duo as Hamrun made their last ditch effort to save the qualification.

And in fact the Spartans managed to tajke the lead through Matthew Guillaumier who silended the Levski fans.

Levski made an aggressive reaction but Hamrun defended well and looked set to force the extra time when seconds into stoppage time Levski obtained the equaliser from a corner action.

It looked all over for the gallant Spartans, but it was not to be. Sixty seconds after conceeding Levski’s equaliser Hamrun regained a dramatic lead when Ryan Camenzuli fired a beauty in the top corner after Dodo had anticipated a rather hesitant Levski goalkeeper.

The game went to extra time. Both had some good scoring opportunities, but in the final minutes of the 120 minutes, Levski pushed for the equaliser.

This was Hamrun’s most difficult moment with the Spartans pushed in their own area and unable to make their counter break. But the score remained unchanged and the issue had to be decided on penalties.

Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello proved to be Hamrun’s hero, saving two shots from the three taken by Levski.

Hamrun were precise from the spot kicks, scoring all their four goals, with the last one by Fedele, being repeated by the referee as the Levski goalkeeper Mihaylov did not stay on the goal line before the kick was taken.

In his second attempt fedele made no mistake placing the ball under the crossbar to give the Spartans this historic qualification.

Freitas. Guillaumier and Luke Montebello had converted in style the three previous penalties, while Henry Bonello denied Tsunami, the scorer of Levski’s goal yesterday, and Krastev, the player who scored on 95 minutes at Ta’ Qali.

Hamrun’s next trip is now to Serbia, were they face Partizan Belgrade who yesterday drew 2-2 in Belgrade and were eliminated 3-4 on aggregate by AEK Larnaca of Cyprus.

This will be another hard nut to crack for the Spartans who are just one step away from the Group stages of a European competition.

After eliminating Armenia’s Alashkert, Bosnia’s Velez Mostar and Levski Sofia, nothing seems to be impossible for the Spartans.

Levski Sofia 1 Hamrun S 2 (Hamrun won 4-1 on pen)

Levski Sofia :Nikolay Mihaylov, Jeremy Arnaud Petris (89 Patrik′Gabriel Galchev), Kilian Van Der Kaap, Wanderson Tsunami, Andrian Kraev, Welton Felipe (115′ Marin Plamenov Petkov), Ronaldo (89 Iliyan Stefanov), Bilal Bari, Noah Sonko-Sundberg, Filip Krastev, Jose Cordoba.

Hamrun S: Henry Bonello, Ederson Bruno Domingos (85’ Ailton Jorge Soares), Matthew Guillaumier, Roko Prsa (118 Matteo Fedele), Rodrigo Callegari Torre, Ognjen Bjelicic (120 Vinicius Freitas), Juan Carlos Corbalan (106 Luke Montebello), Igor Nedeljkovic (72’ Elvis Mashike), Jonny Roberto do Nascimento (72’ Mousa Balla Sowe), Emerson Marcelina, Ryan Camenzuli.

Referee: István Kovács (Romania)

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