Gzira United extended their positive run on top the BOV Premier League table as Haruna Garba notched a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over ten-man Balzan.
This was the seventh win in eight matches for the Maroons and the third defeat for Balzan, who now lie seven points behind the leaders.
Gzira coach Darren Abdilla named Nikolai Muscat and Zachary Scerri in the starting line-up as the Maroons lacked Andrew Cohen while Jorginho was included as a substitute. On the other hand, Ivan Bozovic replaced Andrija Majdevac for Balzan.
The turning point was the dismissal of Nenad Sljivic just before half-time although Gzira had missed the resulting penalty. In fact, two minutes in added time, Sljivic received a second yellow card after pulling Nikolai Muscat by the shirt. Referee Alan Mario Sant also ordered a penalty but Amadou Samb’s effort was neutralised by Steve Sultana.
However, the Maroons took the lead eleven minutes in the second half when Haruna Garba, served by Nikolai Muscat on the left, had a shot deflected by Michael Johnson to beat Steve Sultana.
Gżira doubled the score on the 80th minute thanks to Haruna Garba, served by Roderick Briffa just outside the area, whose fine rising shot, saw the ball hit the crossbar before ending at the back of the net.
Five minutes later, Haruna Garba exchanged the ball with substitute Jorge Pereira da Silva on the left with the former rounding the goalkeeper before tapping home from close range.
GŻIRA Justin Haber, Nikolai Muscat, Zach Scerri, Rodolfo Soares, Juan Corbalan (90′ Christian Sammut), Edison Bilbao Zarate, Roderick Briffa, Fernando Barbosa Pereira, Thomas Veronese, Amadou Samb (83′ Jorge Pereira da Silva), Haruna Garba (88′ Luca Brincat).
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Jaron Schembri, Sacha Borg.
Coach: Darren Abdilla
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli (70′ Siraj Arab Eddin), Dale Camilleri (46’ Michael Johnson), Nenad Sljivic, Alex Da Paixao Alves, Alfred Effiong, Uros Ljubomirac, Ivan Bozovic, Elkin Serrano Valero, Ricardo Correa Duarte, Milos Lepovic.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Lydon Micallef, Neil Frendo, Gary Camilleri, Sean Cipriott.
Coach: Marko Micovic
Asst. Coach: Velibor Kopunovic
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Sljivic, Bozovic, Scerri
Red Cards: 45+2′ Nenad Sljivic
BOV Player of the Match: Haruna Garba
Attendance at the Centenary Stadium: 536