A heroic performance by the boys in Green was not enough to clinch a history making berth in the play-off round as Flora Tallinn won on penalties after the match finish 0-0 after 120 minutes.
It was an impressive performance by the team against a Flora Tallinn side who were more experienced and more quoted than our boys but it wasn’t meant to be.
After a cautious first half in which Potenza’s men controlled the game with the aim to avoid an early goal, the Greens took command of proceedings in the second half and extra time and hand numerous chances to find the winner before the end of 120 minutes.
Flora Tallinn kept their cool from the penalty spot scoring four out of five penalties and will now face Dinamo Zagreb in the play-off round for a place in the group stages.
Coach Potenza restored Ini Akpan, Brandon Paiber, Ryan Camenzuli and Tiago Fonseca in the starting XI after they were rested in the victorious league debut against Gzira.
Flora Tallinn recorded their first shot on 22 minutes when Konstantin Vassiljev intercepted Leone’s pass and sped forward before hitting a firm drive that was blocked by Akpan.
The second half started brightly and on 48 minutes Keqi found Fonseca inside the area and the Brazilian teed up Nicola Leone on the edge of the area and the Italian saw his shot deflected just wide.
Four minutes later it was Brandon Paiber’s turn to hit from the distance but his effort flashed wide.
On the hour, the Greens came close again when Diego Venancio hit a thumping drive that just missed the upright.
On 63 minutes Keqi burst through and fed Paiber whose low shot was blocked by the diving Igonen and five minutes later, we again came close when Garcia’s drive was deflected just past the upright.
Eleven minutes from time Venancio won a free-kick hit a rasping drive that brushed the bar before finishing wide.
Flora Tallinn responded three minutes from time when Martin Miller played in Lepik but was denied by a great save by Akpan as the match finished 0-0 and headed to extra-time.
In the first half of extra-time, on 94 minutes Keqi picked Flavinho inside the area but the Brazilian flicked the ball wide.
In the second extra-time the Greens still held the initiative and this time it was Fonseca who came close when his thumping drive went past the upright. This was the last chance of the match and the match had to be decided on penalties.
Goalkeeper Matvei Igonen became the hero for Flora Tallinn as he blocked Diego Venancio’s spot kick just after Keqi fired over.
Akpan tried to keep us in the game as he saved Markus Poom penalty, but the Estonians held their nerves and Frank Liivak scored the decisive penalty that sent them to the next round.
FLORIANA FC Starting XI; Ini Akpan, Enzo Ruiz, Diego Venancio, Nicola Leone (117’ Jan Busuttil), Kristian Keqi, Brandon Paiber (80’ Flavio Cheveresan), Jurgen Pisani, Matias Garcia, Marcelo Dias, Ryan Camenzuli, Tiago Fonseca.
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Moustapha Beye, Alex Cini, Alejandro Garzia, Daniel Agius.
Coach: Vincenzo Potenza