Pieta', Zebbug and Pembroke big winners of the weekend
Naxxar Lions consolidated their lead at the top with a flawless display, this time against Melita who they beat 2-0. The team of George Vella missed a few regulars in defence (Dimitri Kassekar and Alessio Azzopardi), but played another solid match in which they gave Melita very little chance to score. The final score was already reached at half-time. Brazilian winger Gilberto Carrara Martins Leite opened the score on 37 minutes and on the stroke of half-time, Samuel Saldanha added Naxxar’s second. The Lions have won all their seven matches so far, scoring 17 goals and only conceding two. Veteran goalkeeper Omar Borg remained unbeaten for the sixth time this season.
Pembroke played twice, including last evening when they played Marsaxlokk, a postponed game of Match Day 5. They managed to win both games and therefore continuing to put the pressure on league leaders Naxxar. On Friday evening, the team of Jacques Scerri had to work hard to beat Mqabba, with the decisive goal only arriving deep into stoppage time, thanks to a stunning Weverton goal on 93 minutes. Pembroke had more possession of the ball and had the lions’ share of attacking, but Mqabba gave a gallant display and it was a pity that they left the pitch empty handed. Pembroke took the lead with an Erikys da Silva header on 27 minutes and ten minutes later Mqabba had a glorious chance when Ronald Makalysten was brought down in the area. However, Ryan Spiteri’s penalty was saved by Matthew Grech, with the same Spiteri blasting the rebound well over the bar. Four minutes into the second half Mqabba drew level with a well orchestrated move finished by Luka Mijic whose deflected shot found the back of the net. On 61 minutes Pembroke were back in front with another header this time from veteran Jonathan Bondin. But Mqabba kept coming back and on 74 minutes Mijic scored a great goal with his shot hitting the base of the upright before finishing at the back of the net. Sixty seconds later Pembroke were unlucky when a Jurgen Suda scorcher rattled the crossbar, and when the game was heading for a two all draw, Weverton’s strike broke Mqabba’s hearts.
Yesterday evening, Pembroke scraped to a slender but precious win against Marsaxlokk to consolidate the second spot, five points behind runaway leaders Naxxar but with a game in hand. It was surely not one of the best evenings for Pembroke, but the most important thing are the three points gained in this keenly contested and rather ill-tempered match. Credit goes to Marsaxlokk for a very good performance and it was a pity that they left the field empty handed. Marsaxlokk were reduced to ten men just before the break, when the referee sent-off Emerson Vella in an off-the-ball incident. However, with ten men, Marsaxlokk played a blinder in the second half, but were not able to snatch an equaliser. The goal that mattered was scored by Erikys da Silva half way through the first half, with the striker heading home from close range.
Marsaxlokk also played on Saturday, registering an important victory over bottom of the table side St George’s in a match completely dominated by Marsaxlokk. This victory lifts the South Seasiders to a healthier position in the table even though they are still immersed in the relegation battle. For the Pioneers is was another disappointing performance as their chances of avoiding the drop become slimmer by the week. Pablo Doffo’s side took an early sixth minute lead through an angled drive by Xuan Cappellino, but for the rest of the first half and much of the second, the match failed to lift off. Marsaxlokk always held the upper hand but they failed to add to their tally until seven minutes from time when Walter Serrano rounded two defenders before beating Blues goalkeeper Andre Spiteri with a low drive. Three minutes later the game was practically over when substitute Peter-Paul Sammut headed home from close range following a corner action. There was still time for a consolation goal by St George’s, thanks to Kouta Suemitsu following a Marsaxlokk defensive lapse.
Zebbug Rangers keep on impressing with an emphatic eight nil win over a depleted Luqa last Sunday. History repeated itself as Luqa only managed to win three from the previous 21 games against Zebbug and also last Sunday they stood no chance, displaying poor form, playing most of the match with ten players. After just three minutes, Shalon Diacono put his side ahead after taking advantage from an error from young Luqa goalkeeper Jake Taliana, who will not forget his senior debut easily. In the 11th minute, Mark Farruga was given a straight red card, with Zebbug immediately taking advantage five minutes later when Gaetano Gesualdi doubled the score from the penalty spot. Colombian livewire Miguel Perez Jimenez added goal number three just after the half hour mark. In the early stages of the second half, Shalon Diacono scored his second to make it 4-0 (48th minute) while Stanimir Miloskovic added Zebbug’s fifth on 72 minutes. Substitute Jonatan Silva scored two minutes later to make the score 6-0 and Yannis Tonna made it seven on 81 minutes. Jonatan Silva put his name again on the scoresheet three minutes from time to seal the match. A match to forget for Edmond Lufi’s side.
Apart from Zebbug, Pieta’ can be considered as the big winners of the weekend, bagging six points in two matches. Last Saturday, Pieta’ sent Marsa home empty handed, their first defeat of the season going down 2-0 in a keenly contested affair. The Hotspurs were more direct in their approach, defending for long stretches but lethal in their counter breaks. For high flying Marsa it was an unexpected stop. Potenza’s side was surely not on his best day and although having the lions’ share of attacks, they simply could not find a way past a resolute Pieta defence, who made some daring escapes with balls cleared off the goal line. Pieta took the lead on seven minutes when Paul Lapira (ex-Marsa) dribbled past the goalkeeper and passed towards Teppei Lida who fired home. Marsa goalkeeper Andrea Cassar made a stunning save on 26 minutes to deny James Scicluna. In the second half Marsa pushed desperately forward with the solid Pieta defence lucky at times. However, on 56 minutes Lapira was floored inside the area and Neverton slotted home from the penalty spot.Pieta won another penalty on 76 minutes but from the penalty spot, Scicluna failed to beat Cassar who saved in style.
Yesterday evening, Pieta’ had to face Mgarr for the second half only, as the match was abandoned on 25 October at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch. Paul Gatt’s men were once more on fire, beating Mgarr 3-0. Mgarr created a few dangerous goalscoring opportunities themselves, mainly through their Argentinian striker Gabriel Archaval, who missed a few sitters. On 53 minutes, an Archaval’s attempt was saved by Pieta goalkeeper Reeves Cini. On the hour, Pieta’ took the lead thanks to a grounder from close range by Yuto Morita and five minutes later, captain James Scicluna doubled the score for the Blues, beating ex-Pieta goalkeeper Jacob Chircop St John after a Teppei Lida cross. Barely a minute later, Archaval was close to reduce the deficit with a shot from the edge of the box but Cini blocked his effort into a corner. Neverton added Pieta’s third goal on 77 minutes after a wonderful ‘Rabona’ trick pass by young Brooklyn Borg, a marvelous piece of football of the Malta Under-18 international. With this win, the Blues are now on a shared top position, on equal points with Zebbug, with a game in hand.
Two early goals set Tarxien for an easy victory over Mgarr last Saturday. Thanks to this victory, Steve D’Amato’s side took full advantage of Marsa’s slip against Pieta to move to the third spot of the standings, just one point behind the league leaders. The double advantage at such an early stage gave Tarxien that much needed boost in disposing of Mgarr, who suffered the early double blow and never really recovered. On seven minutes, Saturday Nanapere’s drive was blocked by the Mgarr custodian but from the rebound, Nanapere made no mistake. Two minutes later, playmaker Ricardinho passed towards Darren Falzon who neatly lobbed over Chircop St.John to double the score. Eight minutes before the break, Nanapere again came close but his effort hit the crossbar. The second half was played at a slow pace and fifteen minutes from Tarxien put the game to bed when Nonato Peixoto passed to the unmarked Ricardinho who drilled the ball home. Some consolation for Mgarr on 87 minutes when Archaval headed home a Harry Wood cross.
On Friday night, Fgura produced a five-star performance beating Qrendi 5-1, showing some spectacular football in the process. The star of the match was undoubtedly Brazilian Ewertton who devastating to say the least, having a say in practically all the Fgura goals, even though not managing to score one himself. The game was played at a very fast pace, quite impressive and rather unusual to our local standards. Credit also goes to Qrendi, even though they were soundly beaten in the end. However, especially the first half, was very entertaining with both sides producing countless scoring opportunities. However, after suffering the third goal, a real gem of a goal, the Greens threw the towel and Fgura controlled the match with relative ease. Matthew Brincat shot Fgura ahead on six minutes, but Qrendi came back with Romao close range header.
On 38 minutes Silva Ewertton did all the running before passing towards Prudente who burried the ball home, deflected by Qrendi defender Luca Martinelli. The best goal of the lot arrived three minutes later. A precise pass from Ewertton towards Dylan Caruana who first-timed beautifully home. In the second half, Fgura added another two goals, one from Prudente after another fine run by Ewertton, while Matthew Brincat closed the goal account on 65 minutes, netting his second of the game.
In the lower part of the ranking, ten-man Senglea registered an important victory in a direct relegation clash against St Andrews. Dennis Fenech’s team dominated the early stages scoring two goals inside the opening ten minutes and hitting the post twice, but then on the resumption it was a completely different match as Senglea were reduced to ten men on 47 minutes and St Andrews immediately took advantage reducing the arrears on 52 minutes. For the remainder of the match the Saints started a siege on the Senglea fort, with Senglea somehow holding on to their slender but precious lead till the end of the match. The Saints had a shaky start as Senglea were all over the place with Andres Tenorio scoring a stunner after just two minutes play, a really great goal indeed. The same Tenorio missed a sitter minutes later, but on ten minutes he passed towards Brazilian debutant Matheus Lucena, who scored with a low drive. Senglea were now dominant and unlucky too, hitting the posts twice with headers from Neil Grech and Tenorio. At the start of the second half the Senglea defence was caught napping and Alex Nilsson was brought down by Matthias Ablett at the edge of the area, with the Senglea defender being sent off. On 52 minutes St Andrews pulled on back when Santiago Martinez shot home following some good work by Kei Sano. The Saints pushed forward piling constant pressure and creating several scoring chances, but some mistakes in front of goal and some stunning saves by James Pisani preserved Senglea’s precious lead. St Andrews are bottom of the table on three points, without any wins from seven matches.