HIBERNIANS         1

Degabriele 59

RIGA FC                   4

Leo 49

Paurevic 90+6,

Muritala 105, 115

(aet; Riga FC win 4-2 on aggregate)

 HIBERNIANS

I. Kone; F. Apap (106 E. Beu), L. Almeida, S. Raphael (119 F. Mensah), J. Grech, J. Degabriele (119 Z. Grech), B. Kristensen (79 E. Uzeh), D. Vella (64 A. Attard), Thaylor, A. Agius, W. Domoraud.

RIGA FC

I. Brkic; C. Saiz, F. Brisola (98 N. Piscevic), A. Petersons, M. Soisalo, I. Paurevic, Y. Vakulko (76 Y. Muritala), M. Ngonda (114 R. Rugins), J. Leo, W. Nata (60 Kamess), A. Cernomordijs.

Referee Rob Hennessy (Ireland FA)

Yellow cards Kristensen, Almeida, Grech, Nata, Domoraud, Degabriele, Paurevic, Agius.

Red cards Grech (H) 90, Kristensen (H) 90+, Kamess (R) 111.

Missed penalty I. Paurevic (R) 2.

So close, yet so far for Hibernians and Maltese football to qualify into the play-off stage of a UEFA club competition after the Paolites suffered a heartbreaking elimination at the hands of Latvian side Riga FC.

The Paolites were one minute away from advancing into the next round but a 96th minute goal from Ivan Paurevic sent the game into extra-time before Riga added another one in the additional 30 minutes to set up a play-off tie against Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps.

But the match was marked by a number of controversial decisions from Irish referee Rob Hennessy who annulled what looked like a perfectly legitimate second goal for Degabriele that would have put the Paolites two goals up and surely on the verge of qualification.

Such decisions inevitably contributed to the Paolites to lose their cool as they lost Bjorn Kristensen, Jaked Grech and coach Stefano Sanderra who were dismissed by the Irish referee leaving them with a mountain to climb.

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