A brace by Argentinian midfielder Matias Muchardi gave Sliema Wanderers a place in the Championship Pool as they beat Hamrun Spartans 2-0.
For the Spartans, this was the eleventh defeat in twelve matches.
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Hamrun had two new foreign players in squad – Italian Giacomo Favero and Spanish Cesar Catelan Clemente. On the other hand, Sliema lacked Stefano Bianciardi but Luigi Bianciardi was back after serving a one-match ban.
The Blues had the first attempt at goal on the 4th minute when off a through pass by Ian Zammit, Alex Muscat hit just wide. Hamrun replied with a Massimo Grima freekick on the 26th ending a little high over the crossbar.
Sliema managed to take the lead seven minutes from the end of the first half when Matias Muchardi exchanged the ball with Alex Muscat inside the penalty area and the Argentine hit low past goalkeeper Anthony Curmi.
The Hamrun custodian then turned a powerful drive by Ian Zammit into a corner on the 42nd minute.
Substitute Ayrton Micallef almost levelled matters on the 53rd minute when he rounded the gaolkeeper and lobbed the ball but was unlucky to hit the upright.
On the 70th, Curmi turned into a corner a Shaun Bajada powerful free kick from the left.
The Wanderers doubled the score on 82 minutes. Matias Muchardi exchanged the ball with Ian Zammit before dribbling past the goalkeeper and placing the ball t the back of the net with a diagonal shot.
Matias Muchardi was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HAMRUN Anthony Curmi, Roderick Fenech (30’ Luke Grech), Emiliano Lattes, Adrian Borg, Ryan Spiteri, Terence Vella, Bledjon Guga, Giacomo Favero (78’ Gianluca Debattista), Massimo Grima, David Camilleri, Cesar Catalan Clemente (46’ Ayrton Micallef).
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Melvin Busuttil, Glenn Azzopardi, Gabriel Formosa.
Coach: Stefan Sultana
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat, Luca Martinelli, Paltemio Barbetti, Mark Scerri, Ian Zammit, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods (80’ Alain Faccini), Shaun Bajada, Josef Mifsud, Matias Muchardi.
Subs not used: John Mintoff, Ariel Laudisi, Ryan Dalli, Miguel Ciantar, Beppe Muscat, James Abela.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: Jojo Bajada
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Josef Mifsud, Ivan Woods, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Mark Scerri (S), Adrian Borg (H)
Scorers: 38’ Matias Muchardi, 82’ Matias Muchardi
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Birkirkara returned to winning ways as they defeated Qormi 2-1.
The Stripes had a number of changes from the team which was held in a draw by Sliema last week.
Qormi had the first attempt at goal with an Edison Bilbao Zarate effort from outside the penalty box which rattled past the upright after just four minutes. Birkirkara replied with a cross by Gareth Sciberras cross from the right which was met by a Jhonnattan header serving Yosimar Hernandez whose low shot was deflected by a defender into a corner.
The Stripes took the lead on 26 minutes. A Paul Fenech attempt was partially saved by Matthew Farrugia, Joselito dos Reis took the rebound and had his first attempt blocked by the Qormi goalkeeper, the Brazilian striker took he rebound once again and this time, his low shot ended into the net.
Birkirkara doubles the score on 38 minutes when Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza released the unmarked Jhonnattann Benites on the left flank and the latter darted inside the penalty box and beats the goalkeeper with a low shot.
Qormi replied with a good pass by Alfred Effiong for Edison Bilboa Zarate inside the penalty area, the latter dribbled past Haber but his attempt was cleared by Vukanac into a corner.
Thirteen minutes in the second half, Justin Haber turned into a corner a Luke Sciberras freekick and on the 65th minute, Bondin released Moises Avila Perez inside the area, the Qormi striker dribbled past Haber but his attempt was cleared into safety by a defender.
A Kris Thackray freekick from a central position was easily blocked by Haber on 73 minutes. Four minutes later, a freekick by Jhonnattan from the right as met by a Shola Shodiya header which was however easily neutralised by the Qormi custodian. Justin Haber then neutralised a first time effort by former Birkirkara striker Moises Avila Perez when served by Leighton Grech from the right.
Qormi reduced the gap ten minutes from time as Alfred Effiong advanced inside the area, beating Haber with a fierce shot from close range.
Paul Fenech was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Justin Haber, Zach Muscat, Joseph Zerafa, Paul Fenech, Nikola Vukanac, Gareth Sciberras, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (78’ Edward Herrera), Ryan Scicluna, Joselito Dos Reis (71’ Shodiya Haruna Shola), Jhonnattann Benites, Yosimar Hernandez (59’ Alejandro Mendoza).
Subs not used: Gauci Reuben, Rodrigo Pereira, Antoine Borg, Roderick Taliana.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Kris Thackray, Rodrick Sammut (46’ Moises Avila Perez), Alfred Effiong, Joseph Chetcuti (46’ Leighton Grech) , Luke Sciberras, Matthew Gauci, Edison Bilboa Zarate, Duncan Pisani, Jonathan Bondin, Stephen Wellman
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Matthew Bartolo, Alessio Cassar, Christian Cassar, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Asst. Coach: Joe Brincat
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Christopher Francalanza (replaced by Malcolm Spiteri), Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri (replaced by Fyodor Zammit)
Yellow Cards: Jhonnattann Benites, Joseph Zerafa, Paul Fenech, Zach Muscat (B) Edison Bilboa Zarate, Stephen Wellman, Alfred Effiong, Luke Sciberras, Jonathan Bondin (Q)
Scorers: 26’ Joselito Dos Reis, 38’ Jhonnattann Benites (B) 80’ Alfred Effiong (Q)