Partizani bid farewell to Champions League dream

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 4, 2016 10:04

Partizani bid farewell to Champions League dream

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  • Partizani will now have to wait for their next opponent in the UEFA Europa League play-off round and can become the second Albanian team to make it the group stage after last year's debut by Albania's sixth straight Superliga champions Skenderbeu

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TIRANA, Aug. 4 – Partizani have been disqualified from the Champions League campaign after losing to Austrian champions Salzburg, but can still hope to make it to the less prestigious Europa League group stage if they advance from the play-off round.

Partizani, who suffered an undeserved 1-0 defeat at home to Salzburg last week, were beaten 2-0 on their second leg fixture to Salzburg, bidding farewell to their Champions League dream in a comeback to the top European club tournament after more than two decades.

Speaking at a press conference after the match, Partizani’s Italian coach Adolfo Sormani congratulated the team for their performance despite the defensive blunders punishing the Reds twice in the second half.

“We played a positive first half but were punished by our second-half mistakes. The players displayed strong character against an opponent with quality players,” said Sormani.

“The team is consolidating but we have a lot of work to do. Now another challenge awaits us as we will be playing in the Europa League play-off round. We have to work even harder these days as we’ll be facing another tough opponent from the draw in this stage,” he added.

Salzburg’s coach Oscar Garcia who admitted difficulty in the first-leg fixture in Albania said “we used a different system in the last minute of the first half and entire second half, which helped us to play better, create more chances and win the game.”

Partizani advanced to the Champions League third qualifying round after beating Hungarian champions Ferencvaros in a penalty shootout with goalkeeper and captain Alban Hoxha turning a hero for the Reds as he scored a penalty and saved three others to lead the Albanian team to a historic qualification.

The Reds returned to the Champions League campaign after more than two decades replacing Albanian champions Skenderbeu who were banned from European competition for 1 year over match fixing allegations.

Partizani will now have to wait for their next opponent in the UEFA Europa League play-off round and can become the second Albanian team to make it the group stage after last year’s debut by Albania’s sixth straight Superliga champions Skenderbeu.

According to the UEFA regulation, the 15 losers of the Champions League third qualifying round enter the Europa League play-off round, and the 10 losers of the play-off round enter the Europa League group stage.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 4, 2016 10:04