Goalkeeper turns hero for Partizani in historic Champions League win

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 21, 2016 09:34

Goalkeeper turns hero for Partizani in historic Champions League win

partTIRANA, July 21 – Goalkeeper Alban Hoxha turned a hero for Partizani as he scored a penalty and saved three others to lead the Albanian team to a historic qualification against Hungarian champions Ferencvaros in a penalty shootout in the Champions League second qualifying round.

It was a surprise away qualification for the Albanian Superliga runners-up after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home and were lucky to take the match to extra time with a blunder own goal by Ferencvaros’ Husing after the Hungarian converted a penalty in the first half.

The Reds prevailed 3-1 in the penalty shootout with captain Alban Hoxha, scoring the opening penalty in Panenka-style and saving three others to turn the man of the match for the Albanian team who will now face Austrian champions Salzburg in the third qualifying round.

If they beat Salzburg, Partizani can secure a place in the Champions League play-off round, the same as Skenderbeu did last year, and automatically make it to the Europa League group stage even if they fail to qualify.

Partizani’s Italian coach Adolfo Sormani dedicated the victory to the discipline, determination and the humility his team showed.

“We made it thanks to a humble game. We were very organized and solid and managed to hold a much tougher team. I want to thank my players who showed pride, discipline and determination. I look forward to other challenges,” said Sormani.

Hungarian international Gergő Lovrencsics who has just joined Ferencvaros apologized to fans said they were unlucky to have been disqualified by a weaker team.

Partizani entered the Champions League campaign after Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a UEFA ruling that bans Albania’s champions Skenderbeu from European competition for 1 year over match fixing allegations. The early July decision allowed Superliga runners up Partizani replace the sixth straight Albania champions Skёnderbeu in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League campaign, while their previous opponents Slovan Bratislava proceeded directly to the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round.

Once the most successful side under communism, Partizani has been trophyless since 1993.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 21, 2016 09:34