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Birkirkara progress to Europa League second qualifying round - likely to face West Ham

Birkirkara's third goal. Photo: Gevorg Ghazaryan

Birkirkara's third goal. Photo: Gevorg Ghazaryan

Birkirkara are through to the second qualifying round of the Europa League after they saw off FC Ulisses 3-1 in Yerevan this evening.

Their reward is likely to be a second qualifying round tie against English Premier League side West Ham United.

Fabrizio MiccoliFabrizio Miccoli

After last week’s goalless draw in the opening leg at the Hibs Stadium, there was cautious optimism among the Stripes clan that they could grab the win needed to proceed to the next round of the competition.

Their hopes were given a shot in the arm after 22 minutes when a defensive mix-up between Ulisses goalkeeper Arsen Beglaryan and defender Ivan Mamakhanov saw the latter clear the ball into the path of Birkirkara's Miccoli who had little difficulty in blasting the ball into an empty net.

The Italian forward almost struck again three minutes later when his curling free-kick hit the bar.

Ulisses continued to hold the initiative but looked devoid of ideas in the final third with the result that they rarely threatened the Birkirkara goal.

Instead it was the Stripes who struck again a minute from the break when from a free-kick situation, Miccoli’s delivery was met by Maurizio Mazzetti who headed the ball past Beglaryan.

Birkirkara looked in control but 19 minutes from time Ulisses pulled a goal back.

Morozov was first to Aleksanyan corner kick and the Ulisses defender stabbed the ball into the net.

More pressure was piled on Birkirkara 15 minutes from time as Terence Vella, who had just replaced Murga was shown a straight red card after an off-the-ball incident with Nika Piliev.

But the Stripes refused to panic and added a third goal ten minutes from time.

Substitute Vito Plut was brought down in the area by Mamakhanov and from the penalty spot, Fenech drilled the ball home.

Ulisses also finished the match with ten men when Aleksanyan was dismissed for a rash challenge on Camenzuli. 

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