Two goals in the dying minutes enabled Sliema Wanderers to complete a fine comeback from two goals down as they beat Tarxien Rainbows 3-2 to register their first win of the season.
The Rainbows went two goals ahead and although they suffered one by the end of the first half could have added another when they were awarded a penalty. However Danilo Meira Santos, scorer of the two goals, missed the penalty and was later sent off to ruin his day and that of his team-mates as the Wanderers scored twice to claim the three points.
Both sides had a new foreigner making his debut – Brazilian defender Evaldo Silva dos Santos for Tarxien and Italian midfielder Paltemio Barbetti for Sliema. Missing for the Wanderers was defender Branislav Timotic.
Captain Alex Muscat had the first attempt for the Wanderers on the fourth minute when he controlled the ball on the right before trying his luck with a shot from the edge of the area which was neutralised by David Cassar.
However Tarxien managed to take the lead on 19 minutes when off a cross from the right by Justin Grioli, Brazilian striker Danilo Meira Santos headed the ball home past the helpless Henry Bonello.
The Rainbows doubled the score on 27 minutes when off a corner from the right by Luiz Romulo de Castro, Danilo Meira Santos headed the ball home from close range.
Six minutes later, Danilo advanced on the left, serving the unmarked Daniel Mariano Bueno but the latter’s shot from outside the area ended high.
The Wanderers pulled one back on 41 minutes when off a perfect pass by Omar El Ghaouti from the left, Miguel Ciantar’s fine shot gave goalkeeper David Cassar no chance.
Five minutes in the second half, John Mintoff brought Danilo Meira Santos down inside the area. Referee Chris Lautier ordered a penalty but the Brazilian striker’s effort from the penalty spot ended wide.
Alex Muscat missed a good opportunity on 55 minutes when he received a good pass from the right by Muchardi but his low shot from the edge of the area was neutralised by Cassar. On the other side of the pitch, Bueno concluded a good move with a goal-bound shot which was cleared into a corner by Josef Mifsud on 63 minutes. Five minutes later, Omar El Ghaouti was unlucky to hit the upright with a powerful shot when served on the right. A freekick by Paltemio Barbetti was then blocked by David Cassar.
Tarxien Rainbows were reduced to ten men twelve minutes from time after Danilo Meira Santos picked a second yellow card.
Matias Muchardi went close to equalising five minutes from time when he took a loose ball inside the area but his powerful shot was blocked by the Tarxien goalkeeper. Two minutes later, a cross shot by Miguel Ciantar from the right almost surprised Cassar. Paltemio Barbetti then tried his luck with a fine freekick ending just wide on the 89th.
The Wanderers finally managed to level matter on the 90th when Omar El Ghaouti received a good pass on the left and his powerful shot gave David CAssar no chance.
Sliema kept pushing for more but the Tarxien custodian neutralised shots by Ciantar and Barbetti.
However two minutes in added time, Sliema notched the winner when off a Matias Muchardi corner, Paltemio Barbetti managed to beat Cassar with a perfect cross shot to hand Alfonso Greco’s side the three points.
Justin Grioli was voted BOV Player of the Match.
TARXIEN David Cassar, Carlo Mamo, Evaldo Silva dos Santos, Andrew Agius (60’ Manuel Caruana), Danilo Meira Santos, Karl Pulo (76’ Lee Galea), Daniel Mariano Bueno, Orosco Anonam, Steve Bonnici, Luiz Romulo de Castro (83’ Steve Sadowski), Justin Grioli.
Subs not used: NIcky Vella, Warren Zerafa, Mark Tanti, Clive Fenech.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Asst. Coach: Steven Vella
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, John Mintoff, Josef Mifsud, Beppe Muscat, Luca Martinelli, Paltemio Barbetti, Pablo Gonzalez (59’ Mark Scerri), Matias Muchardi, Alex Muscat (71’ Andrew Decesare), Omar El Ghaouti, Miguel Ciantar.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, David Fenech, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Andrew Caligari, Ivan Woods.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: JoJo Bajada
Referee: Christopher Lautier
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Christopher Francalanza
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: de Castro, Barbetti, Mintoff, Danilo, Caruana, Decesare, B. Muscat, Grioli, Evaldo
Red Cards: 78′ Danilo Meira Santos
Scorers: 19’ Danilo Meira Santos (T), 27’ Danilo Meira Santos (T), 41’ Miguel Ciantar (S); 90’ Omar El Ghaouti (S); 90+2’ Paltemio Barbetti (S)
Meanwhile in the second game, Floriana and Hamrun Spartans earned a point each as they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
After a goalless first half, the match came to life after the break with a number of goal-scoring opportunities
Floriana had several changes from the team which drew with Sliema last week as goalkeeper Jonathan Debono and foreigners Aaron Brown, Carl Tremarco and Aman Verma were all making their debut. Trevor Cilia was also named in the starting line-up. Hamrun coach Stefan Sultana, on the other hand, confirmed the same eleven players after the draw with Balzan but lost Terence Scerri injured after just fifteen minutes. Bulgarian defender Anton Vergilov, who was included as a substitute late in the game was making his debut for the Spartans.
The Greens had the first attempt at goal on the 4th minute with a fine freekick by Carl Tremarco which was blocked with particular difficulty by Andrea Cassar. Hamrun replied with an Angel Yoshev freekick ending just wide on the 7th.
Aman Verma headed just wide for Floriana off a Trevor Cilia freekick from the right on 15 minutes.
For the rest of the first half, the two teams shared the exchanges with the two goalkeepers hardly being tested.
Floriana went out in search of a goal early in the second half and Aman Verma tried his luck with a long-distance shot which was parried by Andrea Cassar. Then off a cross by Trevor Cilia from the right, Aaron Brown unleashed a powerful shot which scraped past the post.
The Spartans managed to break the deadlock on the hour when off a Nikolay Bozhov cross from the right, Gianluca Calabretta anticipated Jonathan Debono placing the ball at the back of the net.
The Floriana goalkeeper came to the rescue on 67 minutes, heading the ball into safety, anticipating Gianluca Calabretta following an inviting pass by Angel Yoshev. On the other side of the pitch, a fine shot by Ryan Darmanin scraped past the post on the 70th minute. Hamrun, however, went close once again with a cross shot by Gianluca Calabretta which was tipped into a corner by Jonathan Debono on 74 minutes.
The Greens levelled matters on 79 minutes when goalkeeper Andrea Cassar lost possession to substitute Ryan Darmanin who placed the ball inside the empty net.
Two minutes later, Hamrun captain Roderick Fenech was sent off by referee Marco Borg following a rough tackle on Aaron Brown.
On the 90th minute, Massimo Grima had a long-distance freekick saved by Jonathan Debono.
Gianluca Calabretta was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Jonathan Debono, Duncan Pisani, Aaron Brown, Tyrone Farrugia, Kane Farrugia, Trevor Cilia, Aman Verma, Valdo Alhinho (70’ Owen Bugeja), Brooke Farrugia (60’ Clyde Borg), Carl Tremarco, Christian Caruana (56’ Ryan Darmanin).
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Thomas Paris, Mark Spiteri, Jermain Brincat.
Coach: Mark Wright
Asst. Coach: Alan Lewer
HAMRUN Andrea Cassar, Gianluca Calabretta, Roderick Fenech, Massimo Grima, Terence Scerri (16’ Ryan Spiteri), Terence Vella (79’ David Camilleri), Daniel Zerafa, Adrian Ivanov, Angel Yoshev, Lyubomir Vitanov, Nikolay Bozhov (84’ Anton Vergilov).
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Luke Grech, Gianluca Debattista, Gabriel Formosa.
Coach: Stefan Sultana
Asst. Coach: Atanas Marinov
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Verma, Bozhov, Grima, Yoshev, C. Borg, Brown
Red Cards: 81’ Roderick Fenech
Scorers: 60’ Gianluca Calabretta (H); 79’ Ryan Darmanin (F)