A goal by Edison Bilbao Zarate mid-way through the second half enabled Qormi to reach a third final of the U*BET FA Trophy as they defeated First Division side Lija Athletic 1-0. In next Wednesday’s final, they will face the winners of the clash between Valletta and Hibernians.
Lija, who had eliminated Premier League side Floriana in the fourth round, gave a very good account of themselves, having their fair share of scoring opportunities and hitting the bar but ended the game in nine men after having two players sent off.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg
This game marked the introduction of Additional Assistant Referees on the goal line in a senior competition.
Lija showed good ideas in the early stages but Qormi went close with a close range effort by Leighton Grech which was neutralised by the Lija goalkeeper. A few minutes later a Moises Avila Perez freekick was blocked by a defender with the Spanish striker’s second attempt off the rebound also being blocked by the Qormi rear-guard.
On the half hour, following a clearance by Matthew Farrugia, Erjon Beu took the loose ball but was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a long distance shot. On the other side of the pitch, three minutes later, Joseph Chetcuti released Leighton Grech whose conclusion from the right was partially saved by Luke Bonnici. A rising shot from the edge of the area by Leontiev Konda for Lija scraped past the post on the 34th.
Five minutes in the second half, Ige Adeshina tested Matthew Farrugia with a good shot from outside the area.
On the 64th, off an Edison Bilbao Zarate corner, Moises Avila Perez had a goal-bound header blocked by Luke Bonnici, Kris Thackray took the rebound but his attempt was cleared off the goal line by Daniel Scerri.
Qormi finally managed to break the deadlock on the 67th when a Moises Avila Perez effort was blocked by the Lija goalkeeper and off the rebound, Edison Bilbao Zarate placed the ball at the back of the net.
To make matters worse for Lija, Clayton Giordmaina was sent off for Lija on the 79th minute following a foul on Alfred Effiong who was heading towards the area.
One minute in added time, Matthew Fleri Soler was also sent off for a practically similar foul on Effiong to leave his team in nine men.
Deep into stoppage time, substitute Matthew Bartolo hit the bar for Qormi when served by Matthew Gauci from the right.
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Kris Thackray, Roderick Sammut, Alfred Effiong (93′ Matthew Bartolo), Joseph Chetcuti (86′ Duncan Pisani), Moises Avila Perez, Luke Sciberras, Matthew Gauci, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Jonathan Bondin, Leighton Grech.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Triston Caruana, Alessio Cassar, Christian Cassar, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Asst. Coach: Joe Brincat
LIJA Luke Bonnici, Clayton Giordmaina, Timothy Fleri Soler (75′ Amadeo Mercieca), Matthew Fleri Soler, Daniel Scerri, Erjon Beu, Leontiev Konda, Evano Briffa (55′ Ricardo Severino Goncalves), Andre Scicluna, Beppe Antignolo (84′ Antoine Sacco), Abdullahi Adeshina Ige.
Subs not used: Justin Tonna, Dylan Mintoff, Daniel Debono, Eman Borg.
Coach: Brian Spiteri
Asst. Coach: Lawrence Borg
Goalkeepers’ Coach: Paul Mangion
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Sammy Attard
Additional Assistant Referees: Marco Borg, Trustin Farrugia Cann
Fourth Official: Edward Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Briffa, Bondin, Gauci, Thackray, Avila Perez
Red Cards: 79′ Clayton Giordmaina, 90+1′ Matthew Fleri Soler
Scorers: 67′ Edison Bilbao Zarate