Nine-man Floriana reach IZIBET FA Trophy final after penalty shoot-out

Despite ending the game in nine men, Floriana held Gzira United in a 2-2 draw and went on to win 5-4 on penalties in the first semi-final of the IZIBET FA Trophy.

In the final on Sunday, the Greens, who had defeated Naxxar Lions 2-0, Zebbug Rangers 7-1 and Marsaxlokk 2-0 in the previous rounds, will be facing either Birkirkara or Sliema Wanderers who meet in the second semi-final on Wednesday.

Ironically, the Maroons went two goals ahead but the Greens hit back with two goals and despite having two players sent off, they held on to a draw, emerging as winners in the penalty shoot-out.

Gzira took the lead on the 11th minute when a Jackson Mendoza corner from the right Gabriel Bohrer Mentz headed home past goalkeeper Nemanja Andrijanic.

Six minutes later Floriana were unlucky not to equalise when Alexandros Kouro had a powerful shot from outside the area which hit the upright. 

The Maroons doubled the score on the 36th minute when off another Jackson Mendoza corner,t he ball was deflected by Kemar Reid and goalkeeper Andrijanic punched the ball out but Zachary Cassar, who had joined them from Floriana in January, placed the ball at the back of the net with a volley from the edge of the area.

One minute in added time, Floriana reduced the gap when off a Kemar Reid corner from the left, Matias Nicolas Garcia headed the ball home past goalkeeper Zarkov.

Three minutes in the second half, Kemar Reid had a close-range header cleared off the goal line by Zachary Scerri but hardly a minute later, the Jamaican-born forward equalised as he headed the ball home off a Willis Furtado corner from the right. 

The Greens were however reduced to ten men on the 58th minute when Matias Garcia was sent off. To make matters worse, Oualid El Hasni was sent off for Floriana thirteen minutes later for a dangerous tackle on Mendoza.

The game went into extra-time and five minutes in added time at the end of the first half of extra-time, Jake Grech was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a direct freekick from the left.

Two minutes in the second half of extra-time, it was Lucas Macula who hit the upright with a header off a Marcelo Dias cross from the right.

With no other goals being scored, the penalty shoot-out had to determine the winner.

Gabriel Bohrer Mentz scored the first penalty for Gzira and Mattia Veselji scored for Floriana; Jackson Mendoza scored for the Maroons and Jake Grech replied for the Greens; Ewertton Silva restored the lead for Gzira with Kemar Reid equalising for Floriana.

Thaylor Aldama hit the ball sky high for Gzira but Carlo Zammit Lonardelli made no mistake to put Floriana ahead; Thiago Espindola equalised but goalkeeper Nemanja Andrijanic scored Floriana’s fifth to put the Greens in the final.

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