Hibernians FC 2-2 Shelbourne FC
Shelbourne FC scored two crucial away goals against Maltese hosts Hibernians FC to put the Irish champions in pole position to secure a UEFA Champions League second qualifying round meeting with Portuguese side Boavista FC.
Jim Gannon was the saviour for the visitors in the National stadium in Ta'Qali just as it looked like Hibernians would record a valuable first-leg victory. The experienced English defender headed the final goal of the first leg in the 66th minute.
Shelbourne opened the scoring after just six minutes when Stuart Byrne headed past stranded Hibernians goalkeeper Mario Muscat after an excellent cross from Ollie Cahill. The goal silenced the home crowd, who had had flocked to give their support to the Maltese champions.
Nevertheless, within 60 seconds Hibernians levelled as Nigerian forward Ndubisi Chuckunyere received a perfect pass from Adrian Ciantar and beat Shelbourne goalkeeper Steve Williams with an angled shot. Buoyed by the goal, Hibernians piled on the pressure and, on 37 minutes, lanky defender Adrian Pulis pushed home a rebound for the hosts, after an Adrian Ciantar free-kick hit the woodwork.
Pressure piled on
Gannon, however, popped up midway through the second half to equalise from Trevor Molloy's cross and shift the advantage in Shelbourne's favour ahead of the return at Tolka Park in Dublin next Wednesday. Hibernians will be disappointed they failed to make pressure tell, particularly in the closing stages when Nigerian midfielder Chuckunyere Ndubisi proved a constant threat.