Holders Hibernians, finalists Qormi, champions Valletta and First Division side Lija Athletic are the four semi-finalists of the U*BET FA Trophy after the four emerged as winners in the four quarter-finals which were played on Sunday.
Valletta and Hibernians were the first two teams to reach the semi-finals after defeating Rabat Ajax and Zebbug Rangers with an identical 3-0 score. The other two quarter-finals ended in narrow wins for Qormi and Lija Athletic over Balzan and St. Andrews respectively.
At the National Stadium, Valletta defeated Rabat Ajax for the first time this season to book a place in the semi-finals.
The Citizens had a number of changes from the team which defeated Floriana as Ian Azzopardi, Michael Mifsud, Denni and William Barbosa were retained on the bench. Yenz Cini, Jason Vandelannoite and Steve Borg were ruled out injured. Rabat, on the other hand, lacked Justin Felice and Malcolm Licari apart from the usual Christopher Schembri, Adam Smeir and Ryan Micallef.
After a quiet start, Joseph Ogunuppe went close with a cross shot from the right which was turned into a corner by Jonathan Azzopardi on the 19th minute. A good header by Demba Toure on the 26th ended just over the bar off a cross from the right by Abubakar Bello-Osagie.
Valletta took the lead on the 27th minute when off a cross by Bello-Osagie, there was a clearance by a defender, Ryan Fenech gained possession and hit low but his conclusion was deflected by Joseph Jo Jo Ogunuppe to beat goalkeeper Jonathan Azzopardi.
Rabat replied with a Jose Luis Armario Negrin effort which scraped past the post three minutes from the end of the first half. A cross shot from the left by Ogunuppe ended on the crossbar a minute later.
The Citizens doubled the score five minutes in the second half when Abubakar Bello-Osagie rounded two players and exchanged the ball with Gabriel before hitting low past the Rabat goalkeeper.
Ogunuppe went close with a header from close range off a cross by Ryan Fenech from the right on 54 minutes. On the hour, Jonathan Caruana headed high off a freekick by Fenech. A Ryan Fenech freekick was then deflected into a corner by Azzopardi four minutes later.
In an attack for Valletta, Mifsud served Demba Toure who anticipated the Rabat goalkeeper with a low shot but the ball ended just wide on 71 minutes. The Magpies replied with a Diego Carrillo effort which just missed the target.
Valletta sealed the issue with a third goal on the 75th minute thanks to a direct freekick by substitute William Barbosa which gave Azzopardi no chance.
RABAT Jonathan Azzopardi, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Jose Luis Armario Negrin, Manuel Moral Fuster (80’ Wayne Borg), Dylan Falzon, Patrick Borg, Clive Brincat, Diego Carrillo Pendas, David Azzopardi (56’ Yan Cauchi), Clifford Gauci (87’ Kurt Muscat).
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Gaetano Gesualdi, Neil Caruana, Chris Vella.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joseph Galea
VALLETTA Manuel Bartolo, Roderick Briffa, Jonathan Caruana, Luke Dimech, Dyson Falzon, Ryan Fenech, Edmond Agius, Joseph JoJo Ogunuppe (60’ Michael Mifsud), Abubakar Bello-Osagie (69’ William Barbosa), Demba Toure (77’ Denni Rocha dos Santos), Joao Gabriel da Silva.
Subs not used: Ryan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Llywelyn Cremona, Daniel Camilleri.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: E. Agius, C. Gauci, Y. Cauchi, D. Carrillo
Scorers: 27’ Joseph Jo Jo Ogunuppe, 50’ William Barbosa, 75’ Abubakar Bello-Osagie
Photo: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
In another match, an own goal enabled last season’s finalists – Qormi to defeat Balzan 1-0.
Qormi had an edge over their opponents throughout the ninety minutes and deserved victory. However they missed several chances thanks to which they could have registered a larger win.
Both sides were unable to field their best formation. Balzan lacked Dylan Grima while Roderick Sammut and Luke Sciberras were missing for Qormi.
Qormi took the lead on the 12th minute when off a Leighton Grech cross, Stefan Giglio deflected the ball past goalkeeper Daniel Miguelez Martinez for an own goal.
Eight minutes in the second half, Christian Cassar released Alfred Effiong on the left but the latter’s shot conclusion ended high.
Qormi continued to hold the initiative but Jamie Pace had a powerful shot from the right for Balzan ending wide on 67 minutes. One minute later, a goal-bound shot by Leighton Grech was blocked by a defender.
Balzan went close to equalising on the 75th minute but Pedrinho’s direct freekick ended just over the bar. On the other side of the pitch, a Moises Avila Perez effort was tipped into a corner by Dani Miguelez on 86 minutes.
In stoppage time, Qormi had an excellent opportunity to seal the issue when off a cross by Effiong from the right, Matthew Bartolo served Joseph Chetcuti who passed the ball to Moises Avila Perez whose feeble shot was blocked without particular difficulty by the Balzan goalkeeper.
BALZAN Daniel Miguelez Martinez, Aaron Agius (34’ Yessous Camilleri), Jacob Borg, Jonathan Francica, Jamie Pace, Bjorn Bondin (38’ Christian Caruana), Firas Aboulezz, Stefan Giglio, Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Elton Alexandre da Silva, Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre (62’ Renato Conceicao).
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Rennie Forace, Ryan Darmanin, Matthew Mendy.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Kris Thackray, Alfred Effiong, Moises Avila Perez (92’ Alessio Cassar), Matthew Gauci, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Duncan Pisani, Jonathan Bondin, Christian Cassar (79’ Matthew Bartolo), Stephen Wellman, Leighton Grech (78’ Joseph Chetcuti).
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Ismael Borg, Gilmore Azzopardi, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Asst. Coach: Joe Brincat
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Eman Grech
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: J. Francica, M. Gauci, Zarate, Pedrinho
Scorers: 12’ own goal Stefan Giglio, Pedrinho
Attendance at National Stadium: 801
Hibernians beat Second Division side Zebbug Rangers 3-0 at the Hibernians Stadium.
Andrew Cohen put Hibernians ahead on the 17th minute, beating Justin Spiteri from close range off a Clayton Failla corner.
Hibs were awarded a penalty on 71 minutes after Roderick Spiteri brought Cohen down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Clayton Failla converted to double the score.
Jean Paul Farrugia sealed the issue with a third goal nine minutes from time, heading the ball home off a Clayton Failla cross.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Adrian Pulis, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen (75′ Brandon Muscat), Zoran Levnajic (19′ Johann Bezzina), Clayton Failla, Marcelo Dias (82′ Scott Chircop), Jean Paul Farrugia.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Ayrton Azzopardi, Timothy Tabone Desira, Neil Chetcuti.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Darren Abdilla
ZEBBUG Justin Spiteri (59′ Julian Verbina), William Camenzuli, Jonathan Xerri (86′ Leone Camilleri), Lee Galea, Miguel Francica, Melvin Farrugia, Roderick Spiteri (75′ Omar Rababah), Lee James Agius, Alan Tabone, Mauricio Rodrigues Britto, John Nwoba.
Subs not used: Dylan D’Agostino, Bjorn Chetcuti, Sergio Hili, Christian Cacciattolo.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Asst. Coach: Vince Carbonaro
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: R. Spiteri, R. Camilleri, C. Failla, B. Muscat, L.J. Agius
Scorers: 17’ Andrew Cohen, 71’ Clayton Failla pen, 81’ Jean Paul Farrugia
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
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Meanwhile in a clash between two First Division sides, Lija Athletic defeated St. Andrews 1-0 to secure a place in the semi-finals. A historic win for the team led by Brian Spiteri.
Timothy Fleri Soler scored the all-important goal on the 14th minute when he headed the ball home off an Erjon Beu corner.
LIJA Luke Bonnici, CLayton Giordimaina, Timothy Fleri Soler (90′ Ricardo Severino Goncalves), Matthew Fleri Soler, Daniel Scerri, Erjon Beu, Leontiev Konda (53′ Amadeo Mercieca), Andre Scicluna, Beppe Antignolo, Ige Abdullahi Adeshina, Antoine Sacco (79′ Dejan Vukovic).
Subs not used: Justin Tonna, Evano Briffa, Daniel Debono, Robert Micallef
Coach: Brian Spiteri
Asst. Coach: Lawrence Borg
ST. ANDREWS Matthew Towns, Neil Chetcuti, Ben Diacono, Brian Said, Michael Johnson (72′ Matteo Desira Buttigieg), Wiliam Camilleri, Joseph Farrugia, Nicki Vella Petroni, Michael Grima (58′ Peter Anizoba), Rumen Kerekov, Trayo Grozev.
Subs not used: Sam Bartolo, Jonathan Briscoe White, Mark Hyzler, Matthew Fenech, Luke Cesareo
Coach: Wayne Attard
Asst. Coach: Victor Cumbo
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Karl Frendo Cumbo, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Chetcuti, Grima, Johnson
Scorers: 13’ Timothy Fleri Soler
Attendance at Hibernians Stadium: 622