An own goal just past the half hour enabled Naxxar Lions to register a second consecutive win as they beat Sliema Wanderers 1-0. A win which puts Jesmond Zerafa’s side, just one point behind Floriana and two ahead of Pietà.
For the Wanderers, this was the second defeat in less than a week, therefore remaining in sixth place on 13 points.
Naxxar lacked the injured Sidney da Silva and Mattia Del Negro but welcomed back David Alejandro Reano. The Wanderers, on the other hand, could not count on the injured Stefano Bianciardi and the suspended Andrea Pisanu.
After just two minutes, a Fabio Mangiacasale effort as deflected into a corner after a Gnabouyou shot was blocked by a defender. Five minutes later, Julian Azzopardi performed a good save on Gnabouyou off a cross by Mangiacasale. Naxxar replied with an inviting cross shot by Gilmar on the 14th but there was no one to connect. On the 27th, a close range effort by Daren Falzon was blocked by Martinelli.
Naxxar managed to break the deadlock on 33 minutes when off a through pass by Gilmar for Emenike, John Mintoff anticipated, sliding the ball past Zammit for an own goal.
Four minutes in the second half, Michael Mifsud went close for the Blues with a diagonal shot from the right. A Gilmar freekick scraped past the post on 61 minutes.
Seven minutes from time, the Wanderers were reduced to ten men after Filippo Andrea Scozzese picked a second yellow card for a foul on Emenike.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Andrew Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Victor Bellia, Pape Gueye (84′ Terence Vella), Daren Falzon, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Angus Buhagiar, David Alejandro Reano, Uchenna Emenike Mbachu.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella,Terence Vella, Duane Bonnici, Yaron Sammut, Jurgen Debono, Ryan Mercieca, Pablo Doffo.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Luca Martinelli, Andrea Scozzese, Guy Gnabouyou (46′ Marko Potezica), John Mintoff, Mark Scerri (36’ Trevor Cilia), Michael Mifsud, Filippo Talato, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Fabio Mangiacasale, Paltemio Barbetti (71′ Beppe Muscat).
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Clive Psaila, Peter Xuereb, Carl Cassar.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Edward Spiteri
Additional Assistant Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann, Sandro Spiteri
Fourth Official: Paul Apap
Yellow Cards: Cilia, Talato, Mangiacasale, Scozzese, Barbetti, Buhagiar, Azzopardi, Bellia
Red Cards: 83′ Filippo Andrea Scozzese
Scorers: 33’ own goal John Mintoff
BOV Player of the Match: Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro