Newly-promoted Melita and Rabat Ajax shared the spoils in an entertaining 3-3 draw to earn their first point of the season.
The Magpies were leading 2-1 but two goals by the Amateurs late in the game seemed to hand the latter the three points. However a goal by Manuel Moral Fuster deep into stoppage-time rescued a point for Rabat.
Rabat coach Silvio Vella made two changes from the team which lost to Qormi as Christian Muscat and Clive Brincat replaced Gaetano Gesualdi and Heiner Backhaus. Melita also had two changes as Kane Micallef and Simon Galea replaced Michael Valenzia and Nicolo Baldacchino.
The Magpies took the lead on the 7th minute when off a pass by Ryan Micallef, Nerijus Astrauskas hit low past goalkeeper Karl Zahra.
Three minutes later, a good header by Ivan Carapic was tipped into a corner by the Melita goalkeeper.
Melita equalised on the 14th minute when off a cross from the left, Julian Galea had a shot blocked by a defender and off the rebound, Luke Micallef placed the ball at the back of the net.
Adam Smeir went close with a cross shot from the left ending just wide on 17 minutes.
One minute later, Rabat regained the lead when a powerful shot by Ryan Micallef hit the near post and the far post before falling at the feet of Nerijus Astrauskas who slammed the ball home.
Melita threatened the Rabat defence on 29 minutes when off a Luke Micallef cross from the right, Julian Galea’s headed scraped past the post. A minute later, Julian Galea served Luke Micallef whose close-range effort was blocked by Sean Mintoff.
The Amateurs were awarded a penalty on 34 minutes for a foul inside the area on Luke Micallef. However Jose Luis Armaro Negrin’s effort was turned into a corner by the Rabat goalkeeper.
The Spanish striker then went close with a low shot from outside the area ending just wide on 39 minutes.
Twelve minutes in the second half, the Amateurs went close once again with Jose Luis Armaro Negrin, served by Julian Galea, but Sean Mintoff blocked his attempt and the ball was cleared into a corner. On the other side of the pitch, Rabat were unlucky to hit the crossbar on the 61st minute with a Yan Cauchi header off a cross from the left by Ryan Micallef.
Melita equalised on the 73rd minute when Luke Sammut sent Jose Luis Armaro Negrin through and the latter slotted the ball past Sean Mintoff.
Ten minutes later, Melita forged ahead when substitute Michael Valenzia sent a through pass for Jose Luis Armaro Negrin and the latter rounded a defender before hitting low past Mintoff.
Two minutes from time, substitute Justin Felice headed the ball just over the bar following a cross from the left by Christian Muscat.
However it was not over yet as three minutes in added time, Rabat notched the equaliser when off a pass by Christian Muscat from the left, Manuel Moral Fuster managed to beat goalkeeper Karl Zahra with a fine rising shot to earn a point for the Magpies.
Luke Micallef was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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MELITA Karl Zahra, Karl Vella Petroni, George Gribbon, Rudi Alhinho, Jovan Vukanic, Luke Sammut (89’ Nicolo Baldacchino Orland), Simon Galea (63’ Michael Valenzia), Julian Galea, Kane Micallef, Luke Micallef, Jose Luis Armaro Negrin.
Subs not used: Andrew Abela, Andrew Caruana Scicluna, Daniel Gravino, Michael Cachia, Marc Attard.
Coach: Martin Gregory
Asst. Coach: Carmel Busuttil
RABAT Sean Mintoff, Christopher Schembri, Ivan Carapic, Nerijus Astrauskas, Adam Smeir (82’ Justin Felice), Manuel Moral Fuster, Dylan Falzon, Christian Muscat, Clive Brincat (73’ Joseph Caruana), Ryan Micallef (79’ David Azzopardi), Yan Cauchi.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Neil Farrugia, Kurt Muscat, Shaun Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joe Galea
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Christopher Francalanza, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Armaro Negrin, Fuster
Scorers: 7’ Nerijus Astrauskas (R);14’ Luke Micallef (M); 18’ Nerijus Astrauskas (R); 73’ Jose Luis Armaro Negrin (M); 83’ Jose Luis Armaro Negrin (M); 90+3’ Manuel Moral Fuster (R)
Meanwhile Hibernians registered their second win as they defeated Qormi 4-2.
The Paolites were clearly the better side during the first half taking a three-goal lead. After the break, Qormi improved, controlling their opponents well.
Qormi had two new players in their starting line-up – Italian striker Vincenzo Pisani and Argentine forward Sebastian Siritto while Gaetan Spiteri was included as a substitute. On the other hand, Hibs once again lacked Jean Paul Farrugia, Triston Caruana, Edward Herrera and Jason Vandelannoite.
The Paolites made their intentions clear right from the start with Andrew Cohen having a shot at goal deflected into a corner after just 26 seconds. One minute later, off a cross from the left by Marcelo Dias, Steve Pisani had a close-range effort blocked by Matthew Farrugia.
Hibs took the lead on 17 minutes when off a Jackson Lima freekick from the left, the ball reached Rodolfo Soares who placed the ball at the back of the net from close range.
Qormi replied with a Kris Thackray freekick ending wide on 27 minutes.
But on the 34th minute, the Paolites doubled the score thanks to Andrew Cohen who beat Matthew Farrugia off a Jackson Lima freekick from the left.
Four minutes later, Hibernians scored the third goal thanks to a great goal by Marcelo Dias whose rising shot gave the Qormi goalkeeper no chance.
Qormi pulled one back on 59 minutes as substitute Gaetan Spiteri’s diagonal shot from the left was deflected by a defender past goalkeeper Mario Muscat.
Ten minutes later, Jackson di Lima Siqueira concluded a good move with a fine rising shot from outside the area which beat Matthew Farrugia to make it 4-1 for the Paolites.
Substitute John Nwoba went close with an overhead kick which ended just wide.
Four minutes from time, Qormi scored another goal when off a cross by Chetcuti, Bello-Osagie’s header was partially saved by Muscat and off the rebound, Gaetan Spiteri placed the ball at the back of the net.
Marcelo Dias was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Kris Thackray, Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo, Vincenzo Pisani (76’ Alessio Cassar), Joseph Chetcuti, Abubakar Bello-Osagie, Matthew Gauci, Sebastian Siritto (46’ Luke Sciberras), Jonathan Bondin, Leighton Grech (46’ Gaetan Spiteri).
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Carmelo Farrugia, Gabriel Buttigieg, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson (46’ Adrian Pulis), Steve Pisani (67’ John Nwoba), Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias (78’ Anderson Mendes Ribeiro), Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Johann Bezzina, Zoran Levnajic, Jackson Di Lima Siqueira.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Scott Chircop, Ayrton Azzopardi, Brandon Muscat.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Richard Mercieca
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: M. Farrugia, Bondin, Chetcuti, Bello-Osagie, Pulis, Levnajic
Scorers: 17’ Rodolfo Soares (H); 34’ Andrew Cohen (H); 38’ Marcelo Dias (H); 59’ Gaetan Spiteri (Q); 69’ Jackson Lima (H); 86′ Gaetan Spiteri (Q)