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Birkirkara see off Santa Coloma

Birkirkara FC 4-3 FC Santa Coloma (agg: 7-3)
Two goals apiece from Michael Galea and Trevor Cilia took Birkirkara into the second qualifying round for the first time.

Birkirkara see off Santa Coloma
Birkirkara see off Santa Coloma ©UEFA.com

Birkirkara FC reached the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round for the first time as two goals each from Michael Galea and Trevor Cilia completed a comfortable aggregate triumph against FC Santa Coloma.

With last week's first leg in Andorra awarded as a 3-0 win to Birkirkara after the match was postponed because of poor pitch conditions, the Maltese champions were already in the driving seat and needed only ten minutes to stretch their aggregate advantage as captain Galea converted Shaun Bajada's assist. Santa Coloma swiftly struck back, however, Norberto Urbani levelling 11 minutes later with an opportunist strike that left home goalkeeper Ezequiel Lovizon stranded.

Birkirkara nevertheless remained largely in control and effectively clinched the tie with two goals in five minutes just past the half-hour. First, Paul Fenech released Galea with another perfect pass, the home captain again making no mistake, before Thomas Paris set up Cilia to make it 3-1. Although Manolo Jiménez reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time with a floated free-kick which against left Lovizon helpless, almost immediately Fenech set up Cilia to restore Birkirkara's two-goal lead on the night.

The Andorran champions did have the last word, though, Jiménez delivering a corner for Mariano Urbani to score Santa Coloma's third goal of the night with five minutes remaining. Birkirkara nevertheless advance and will play Slovakia's MŠK Žilina in the next round with the first leg in Malta on 13/14 July and the return the following week. "Getting a win was definitely important," Cilia told UEFA.com. "I saw a very good Birkirkara today and I'm pleased with my two goals. We already know the strength of our next opponents and we'll be giving our all to show our best in both matches."