20 Jul 2023
© Brian Little/INPHO

Glentoran suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak as they exited the UEFA Europa Conference League to Maltese side Gzira United at The Oval.

With the sides level at 2-2 following the first leg last week, the Glens were handed an early opportunity to move in front after Rory Donnelly was upended in the area on 18 minutes but Bobby Burns could only drag the resultant penalty wide of the target.

Warren Feeney's side had two further chances before the break to seize the advantage, but Donnelly saw an effort deflected wide before a later corner was cleared off the line.

However, it fell to the visitors to eventually break the deadlock midway through the second half when Thiaguinho struck an upright after cutting in from the left with Lucas Macula tucking away the rebound.

That was how it stayed until stoppage time when the Glens thought they had earned a repreive through James Singleton's finish only for it to be ruled out offside.

But, remarkably, they did grab the all important equaliser in the 13th minute of added time when Burns atoned for that early penalty miss with a close range finish.

Glentoran created the better chances in extra-time, coming agonisingly close when Rhys Walsh turned an effort onto the crossbar before the visiting keeper saved Aidan Wilson's follow up.

In the end, however, it required spot-kicks to settle the tie.

And, it what turned out to be a UEFA competition record, the sides traded a remarkable 28 penalties between them before Gzira eventually emerged victorious when Zachary Scerri scored and Leon Boyd - with his second of the evening - saw his effort saved.