Raphinha was the hero for Hamrun Spartans as he scored seven goals and was the mastermind behind a 13-3 romp over Zebbug Rangers in the first round of the Gatorade Knock-Out.
Hamrun found goals harder to come in the first half as Zebbug defended boldly and resorted to quick counter-attacks that were sometimes lethal. Zebbug goalkeeper Gallen Mifsud distinguished himself with great saves to keep his team in the game. However in the second half, the Spartans were a different lot and Raphinha stole the limelight as he resumed his scoring spree to annihilate the Zebbug rearguard.
Raphinha hit the target seven times with Eslam Khalifa, Ibrahim Tarek, Andy Mangion, Djordje Maksimovic, Daniel Mifsud and an own goal by Gorg Borg completing the mission for the Spartans. Ingo Dolora, Jamie Portelli and Patrick Bonnici scored for Zebbug.
Mohammed Elamari’s hat-trick helped Valletta’s overcome newcomers Sliema Wanderers 9-5. Valletta produced a stunning display in the first half scoring seven goals in the process. The second half was a different story as the Wanderers improved their performance and roared back when they scored four goals to produce a thrilling finale. A brace by Melvin Borg together with targets from Denis di Maio, Jovica Milijic and Dylan Musu added more goals for the City.
David Calleja netted twice for Sliema apart from a goal each by Ryan Dalli, Darren Agius and an own goal.
In a drab encounter, Lija Athletic saw off Msida St. Joseph 5-1 to advance to another round of this competition. The winners, who are considered one of the main challengers for the championship, had Luke Stivala, Wallace Oliveira, Jason Gauci, Stefan Vella and Nicola del Re putting their names on the score sheet. Herbert Spiteri scored Msida’s only goal.
Mdina Knights edged Qrendi 7-6 in an exciting thirteen-goal thriller. Striker Cleavon Portelli notched a hat-trick while Neil Cauchi, Dalziel Bugeja, Roberto Sarcia and Ryan Micallef added more goals for the Knights. A brace by Alan Spiteri, Bertram Azzopardi, Maxime Landais, Saviour Sammut and Haitam Saghar were the goal-getters for Qrendi.
Swieqi United registered a 5-3 hard-earned win against newcomers Marsaskala to join the last eight of the Knock-Out. Gabor Balan and Daniel Sant scored two goals while Diego Gomes de Mello added another one for Swieqi. Josef Balzan, Reuben Degabriele and Steve Gambin were on the mark for the Southsiders.
Mqabba found no difficulty in beating debutants Gozo FC 9-2. A brace by Lydon Baldacchino, Matthew Buttigieg, Fabio Grech, Kevin Loughborough and Conrad Dimech completed the rout for Mqabba. Jean Paul Abdilla and Joel Grima reduced the arrears for Gozo FC.