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Ekranas held to narrow win by Valletta

Valletta FC 2-3 FK Ekranas
Three goals to the good at one stage, Ekranas were forced to settle for a narrow victory following the hosts' fightback in Corradino.

Dainius Gleveckas (left) takes the plaudits following his goal for Ekranas
Dainius Gleveckas (left) takes the plaudits following his goal for Ekranas ©Domenic Aquilina

FK Ekranas hold a 3-2 advantage over Valletta FC following the first leg of their UEFA Champions League second qualifying round tie.

Although Ekranas are still in pole position to progress, they will feel aggrieved at the narrow margin of victory having at one stage been three goals ahead in Corradino thanks to first-half strikes from Uchenna Umeh, captain Dainius Gleveckas and Ramūnas Radavičius. Maltese champions Valletta refused to lie down, though, and narrowed the gap through new signing Michael Mifsud and a late penalty from William Barbosa.

It was Umeh, however, who set the tone for a dominant early period from the Lithuanian titleholders, dribbling past a series of Valletta defenders before slotting in on 15 minutes having gone close earlier. Things went from bad to worse for the hosts midway through the half when Gleveckas also beat goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.

Gilbert Agius nearly halved Valletta's deficit but they soon found themselves three down, Radavičius making no mistake from the spot following Jonathan Caruana's foul on Umeh.

Mifsud pulled one back within two minutes and subsequently missed three further opportunities to reduce his team's arrears. Hope remains for Valletta, though, after Barbosa converted a penalty to put them back in contention heading into next week's return leg.