Rabat Ajax collected three precious points in the battle against relegation as they registered a 3-0 win over Balzan.
Diego Carrillo and Manuel Moral Fuster both had excellent performances with the other Spanish player – Jose Luis Armario Negrin scoring two of the goals.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
Rabat lacked Gaetano Gesualdi apart from the usual Adam Smeir, Ryan Micallef and Christopher Schembri. The only player missing for Balzan was goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri who is also ruled out due to a long-term injury.
The Magpies had an excellent opportunity to take the lead on the 17th minute when Diego Carrillo released Jose Luis Armario Negrin through, the latter advanced all alone but hit wide from inside the area.
However a minute later, Diego Carrillo was brought down inside the area by Stefan Giglio and from the penalty spot, Jose Luis Armario Negrin converted to put Rabat ahead.
Following a good run on the right by Negrin on the 23rd, the ball was cleared into a corner and from the resulting corner by Carrillo, Ivan Carapic’s fine header was neutralised by Dani Miguelez. Manuel Moral Fuster then was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a good attempt from the left on 28 minutes.
Rabat maintained the pressure and on the 35th minute, Moral Fuster concluded a good move with a rising shot which was deflected into a corner. Balzan replied with a long-distance effort by Ryan Darmanin which was parried by Sean Mintoff just before half-time.
On the hour, Ryan Darmanin tried his luck with an angled shot from the right which was saved by the Rabat goalkeeper. Two minutes later, Akui N’Dekre headed wide off a cross from the left by Matthew Mendy. Diego Carrillo was then unlucky to hit the crossbar with a freekick from the left on 65 minutes.
Jose Luis Armario Negrin missed a great opportunity to double the score for Rabat on the 75th when Moral Fuster sent him through on the left but the latter advanced into the area before having his poor shot blocked by Dani Miguelez.
The Magpies scored the second goal on the 77th when off an inviting pass by Armario Negrin from the left, David Azzopardi’s first-time effort from the edge of the area gave the Balzan goalkeeper no chance.
Two minutes later, Jose Luis Armario made it 3-0 when he received a through pass by Moral Fuster on the right and beat Miguelez with an angled shot.
Substitute Yan Cauchi had a good shot from the right blocked by the Balzan goalkeeper on 87 minutes. One minute later, Aaron Agius went close to scoring a consolation goal for Balzan with a powerful drive from the right which ended just over the bar.
Manuel Moral Fuster was voted BOV Player of the Match.
RABAT Sean Mintoff, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Jose Luis Armario Negrin (84’ Malcolm Licari), Manuel Moral Fuster, Dylan Falzon, Patrick Borg (78’ Justin Felice), Clive Brincat, Diego Carrillo Pendas, David Azzopardi (81’ Yan Cauchi), Clifford Gauci.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Neil Caruana, Wayne Borg, Shaun Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joseph Galea
BALZAN Daniel Miguelez Martinez, Jacob Borg, Matthew Mendy, Stefan Giglio (85’ Aaron Agius), Yessous Camilleri, Jamie Pace, Renato Garcia Conceicao (68’ Bjorn Bondin), Dylan Grima, Christian Caruana, Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre (85’ Firas Aboulezz), Ryan Darmanin.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Rennie Forace, Clint Micallef, Jonathan Francica.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Paul Apap
Fourth official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Giglio, Grima, Falzon
Scorers: 18’ Jose Luis Armario Negrin (pen); 77’ David Azzopardi, 79’ Jose Luis Armario Negrin
Meanwhile in the second match, Melita and Hamrun Spartans shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw. A result which satisfied neither side as both remain in the bottom two places, three points and one point respectively behind Rabat Ajax.
Melita held the initiative for most of the game but ironically the Spartans enjoyed the lead twice. However considering their performance, Melita did not deserve leaving the Victor Tedesco Stadium empty-handed.
Hamrun lacked Adrian Borg and Loic Lumbilla while George Gribbon and Luke Sammut were missing for Melita.
The Amateurs had the first attempt at goal on the 7th minute with a powerful drive by Jean Pierre Attard hitting the crossbar. Hamrun replied with a Massimo Grima freekick which was turned into a corner by Philip Schranz aided by the posts.
Daniel Cabanillas Ayllon brought the best out of goalkeeper Anthony Curmi with a fine header on the 32nd minute following a cross by Nigel Rizzo from the right with the Hamrun goalkeeper turning the ball into a corner in style.
Another long-distance shot by Nigel Rizzo was parried in two attempts by Curmi to minutes in the second half. A fierce shot by Cabanillas from the right was neutralised by the Hamrun custodian.
Ironically Hamrun managed to break the deadlock on the 66th minute when off a Luke Grech corner from the right, Massimo Grima headed the ball home from close range.
The Spartans now were in control and after having an Emiliano Lattes effort cleared off the goal line by a defender, Terence Vella went close with a lob from a close angle which however missed the target
On the 74th minute, Cabanillas rounded the goalkeeper before having a goal-bound effort cleared off the goal line by Luke Grech.
Two minutes later, Melita levelled matters thanks to substitute Luke Micallef who headed the ball home from close range following a Julian Galea freekick from the left.
Seven minutes from time, Hamrun regained the lead. It was substitute David Camilleri who received a short clearance.
However Melita equalised on the 86th minute thanks to Julian Galea whose powerful drive, when served by Sierra Camacho, gave Anthony Curmi no chance.
Nigel Rizzo was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MELITA Philip Schranz, Matthew Borg, Luke Bianco, Ivan Tufegdzic, Rudi Goncalves Alhinho, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho, Nigel Rizzo (74’ Karl Vella Petroni), Jean Pierre Attard, Alan Borg Olivier (62’ Luke Micallef), Julian Galea, Daniel Cabanillas Ayllon.
Subs not used: Karl Zahra, Michael Martin, Michael Valenzia, Marc Attard, Andrew Caruana Scicluna.
Coach: Patxi Salinas
Asst. Coach: Alejandro Martinez Lopez
HAMRUN Anthony Curmi, Glenn Azzopardi, Daniel Zerafa, Bledjon Guga, Massimo Grima, Luke Grech, Giacomo Favero (68’ David Camilleri), Roderick Fenech, Terence Vella (89’ Terence Scerri), Emiliano Lattes, Ryan Spiteri (77’ Ayrton Micallef).
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Gianluca Debattista, Ryan Bonello, Melvin Busuttil.
Coach: Stefan Sultana
Asst. Coach: Jeffrey Mifsud
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Eman Grech
Fourth official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Guga, JP Attard, Zerafa, Rizzo, Alhinho, Azzopardi, L. Micallef, Camilleri
Scorers: 66’ Massimo Grima (H); 76’ Luke Micallef (M); 83’ David Camilleri (H); 86’ Julian Galea (M)