Tarxien Rainbows came back from one goal down to register an important win in the battle against relegation as they beat Naxxar Lions 2-1 at the National Stadium despite having to play for the last twenty-three minutes in ten men.
The Rainbows, therefore returned to winning ways after losing three matches and a draw in their last outing, to move to just three points behind the same Naxxar. For Naxxar, this was the fifth defeat in six matches.
Naxxar’s Gilmar Da Silva Ribeiro and Tarxien’s Fernando Lopes Alcantara were serving a one match ban.
However despite the fact that Tarxien had the lion’s share of ball possession in the first half, it was Naxxar Lions who went ahead before the half time whistle when off a corner from the right by Filip Stojanovic, Terence Scerri headed the ball home past goalkeeper Nicky Vella.
The Rainbows maintained the pressure after the break, equalising on the 53rd thanks to Demba Toure who flicked the ball past Azzopardi when served by Jorge Santos Silva.
Four minutes later, Jorge Santos Silva’s low diagonal shot from inside the penalty area ended inches wide past the upright.
On the 67th, Tarxien had Steve Bonnici sent off for a second bookable offence. However they still went close to gaining the lead through Demba Toure, sent through by Daniel Mariano Bueno, but his powerful shot was parried by the Naxxar goalkeeper.
Five minutes from time, referee Mario Apap ordered a penalty after he deemed that Angus Buhagiar had handled the ball inside the area. From the penalty spot, Demba Toure converted to hand Tarxien the three points.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, John Debono (88’ Jurgen Debono), Thiago Lopes de Souza, Raimi Bakare, Daren Falzon, David Alejandro Reano, Andrew Decesare, Filip Stojanovic, Andre Rocha Da Silva (82’ Milan Vignjevic), Angus Buhagiar, Terence Scerri.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Duane Bonnici, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Yaron Sammut, Kurt Drago.
Coach: Winston Muscat
TARXIEN Nicholas George Vella, Carlo Mamo, Manuel Caruana, Demba Toure, William Barbosa (46’ Lucas Goncalves da Silva), Ryan Sammut, Carlo Menendez Hevia (90’ Andrew Agius), Daniel Mariano Bueno, Josef Mifsud, Steven Bonnici, Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Steven Sadowski, Miguel Ciantar, Luke Aquilina, Luke Zahra.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Thomas Debono
Additional Assistant Referees: Marco Borg, Trustin Farrugia Cann
Fourth Official: Peter Abela
Yellow Cards: J. Santos Silva, R. Sammut, R. Bakere, S. Bonnici, A. Rocha Da Silva, D. Falzon, A. Buhagiar
Red Cards: 67′ S. Bonnici
Scorers: 45’ Terence Scerri, 53’ Demba Toure, 86’ Demba Toure (pen)
BOV Player of the Match: Demba Toure
At the Hibernians Stadium, Sliema Wanderers moved temporarily in third place thanks to a fine 4-0 win over Balzan in a clash from the Championship Pool. Thanks to this win, the Wanderers extend their unbeaten run to ten matches.
Sliema lacked Clifford Gatt Baldacchino and Abubakar Bello-Osagie while Lucas Ramon dos Santos and Pedro dos Santos Calcado were missing for Balzan.
Balzan had the first attempt at goal on the 8th minute with a header by Lydon Micallef off a cross shot from the right by Justin Grioli from the right ending just wide. Four minutes later, Jose Luis Armario Negrin had a shot blocked by Bianciardi and off the rebound, Lydon Micallef’s effort was parried by Bonello.
However Sliema managed to take the lead on the 18th when off a cross by Stanley Ohawuchi from the right, a defender failed to clear the ball into safety and Ivan Woods hit home from close range.
To make matters worse for Balzan, Dylan Grima picked a second yellow card on the 36th for simulating a foul inside the area and was therefore given marching orders by referee Philip Farrugia.
Sliema doubled the score four minutes from the end of the first half when off a Admir Vladavic corner from the right, Ivan Woods headed the ball in the direction of Stanley Ohawuchi who anticipated Bartolo with another header.
Following a cross by Ivan Woods, there was a short clearance and Alex Muscat tried his luck with a first-timer which ended just over the bar on the 66th. On the other side of the pitch, Steve Bezzina hit the side netting with a powerful shot from the left on 68 minutes.
The Blues made it 3-0 on the 76th thanks to Admir Vladavic whose powerful shot from the edge of the area gave Manuel Bartolo no chance.
Two minutes from time, Sliema sealed the issue with a fourth goal thanks to Admir Vladavic served on the right, inside the area, beating Bartolo with a low shot.
BALZAN Manuel Bartolo, Justin Grioli (73′ Firas Aboulezz), Kurt Magro, Steve Bezzina, Andrew Scicluna, Fabio Vignaroli, Dylan Grima, Luke Sciberras, Lydon Micallef (80′ Ryan Darmanin), Edison Bilbao Zarate, Jose Luis Armario Negrin.
Subs not used: Michael Falzon, Mark Spiteri, Charlie Fuller, Gianfranco Micallef, Shaun Bugeja.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, Kane Farrugia, John Mintoff (65′ Jacob Borg), Mark Scerri (75′ Beppe Muscat), Stanley Ohawuchi, Ivan Woods (83′ Axl Xuereb), Paltemio Barbetti, Matias Muchardi, Stefano Bianciardi, Admir Vladavic.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Trevor Cilia, Carl Cassar, Alex Podda.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Grima, Scerri, Barbetti, Vladavic
Red Cards: 36′ Dylan Grima
Scorers: 18′ Ivan Woods; 41′ Stanley Ohawuchi, 76′ Admir Vladavic, 88′ Admir Vladavic
BOV Player of the Match: Stanley Ohawuchi