A late goal by Yuri Messias handed Gzira United three important points in a narrow win over champions Hamrun Spartans at the National Stadium on Saturday.
A win which puts the Maroons in third place along with Floriana, close to Hibernians and Birkirkara. For the Spartans this was the fourth defeat in six matches.
The Spartans had goalkeeper Pablo Sanchez making his first appearance as he was deputising for the injured Henry Bonello. Juan Carlos Corbalan and Faissal El Bakhtaoui replaced Arthur Oyama and Soufiane Lagzir in another two changes from their last outing. Gzira, on the other hand, had one change as Luke Tabone replaced the injured Steve Borg.
The Maroons went close to taking an early lead with a Nikolai Muscat effort which hit the crossbar. A diagonal shot by Jefferson de Assis ended just wide. During the second half, the Spartans tested Curmi with a Karl Micallef header and an Arthur Oyama effort but the Gzira custodian turned the ball into a corner.
However, Gzira notched the winner five minutes from time when off a Thiago Espindola freekick from the right, the ball was deflected by a defender and Yuri Messias headed home from close range.
HAMRUN Pablo Sanchez, Darko Gojkovic, Joseph Mbong, Ailton Jorge Soares (45′ Arthur Oyama), Franklin Sasere (83′ Soufiane Lagzir), Luke Gambin, Juan Carlos Corbalan, Karl Micallef, Isaac Ntow, Emerson Marcelina (55′ Matthew Guillaumier), Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
Coach: Mark Buttigieg
GZIRA Anthony Curmi, Gabriel Bohrer, Luke Tabone, Nikolai Muscat (62′ Clive Gauci), Steve Pisani, Yuri Messias (80′ Zachary Scerri), Martin Davis, Nevin Portelli, Thiago Espindola, Jefferson de Assis (57′ Maxuell Maia), Jackson Mendoza.
Coach: Darren Abdilla
Referee: Slobodan Petrovic
Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Alex Johnson
Yellow Cards: Gojkovic, Mendoza