GŻIRA UNITED 1
ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 2
D. Zarkov-7; G. Bohrer-6, L. Tabone-6.5 (90 B. Borg), N. Muscat-6, Z. Scerri-6 (90 A. Borg), M. Dias-6, T. Kolega-6, R. Correa-6 (69 S. Pisani), M. Cosic-6, Maxuell-6.5, Jefferson-6.
H. Bonello-6.5; Ederson-6.5 (76 L. Montebello), S. Borg-6.5, M. Guillaumier-6.5, E. Mashike-6.5, Dodo-6.5 (76 Jonny), R. Prsa-7 (90 R. Callegari), O. Bjelicic-6.5, J. Corbalan-6, E. Marcelina-6.5, R. Camenzuli-6.5 (72 Vinicius).
Referee Slobodan Petrovic.
Yellow cards Muscat, Scerri.
BOV Player of the Match Elvis Mashike (Ħamrun Spartans).
Luke Montebello found the right moment to score his second goal with the colours of Ħamrun Spartans as he handed his club a crucial 2-1 win over second-placed Gżira United.
A win that sees the Spartans extend their lead to seven points at the top of the BOV Premier League as they remain clear favourites to win this year’s title.
For the Maroons, this was their first defeat in nine top-flight games after five wins and three draws in their opening fixtures of the campaign.
Henry Bonello was forced into two spectacular saves when on the sixth minute, he blocked a strong long-range strike by Gabriel Bohrer before blocking a second attempt from Toni Kolega’s rebound inside the small area.
Moments later, the Spartans replied through another free-kick, from specialist Roko Prsa, whose effort was blocked by Darijan Zarkov before being cleared into a corner by the Gżira backline.
Toni Kolega tried his luck again with a low drive that was smothered into Bonello’s hands as the teams continued to exchange proceedings.
The Maroons also saw an audacious effort by Zach Scerri who tried to surprise Bonello who was out of his goal with a thumping volley but his shot was in vain.
At the other end of the field, Zarkov denied an Ederson’s curling effort from outside the area.
It was Gżira, though, who drew first blood when central defender Luke Tabone guided a Correa’s outswinging corner past Bonello with a towering header.
Past the half-hour mark, Gżira could have doubled their lead when clinical forward Maxuell made his way into the box before his fierce strike was saved by Bonello.
Yet, it was the Spartans who scored the game’s next goal.
Forward Elvis Mashike profited from a lack of communication between Gżira’s custodian Zarkov and defender Marko Cosic who clashed into each other, with the Ħamrun forward having the simplest of tasks to slot the ball into an empty net.
Branko Nisevic’s side almost completed the turn around when Matthew Guillaumier let fly a delightful lob just to be denied by the crossbar. The Malta international had also a volley from the penalty area which was halted by Gżira’s goalkeeper.
Zarkov again came to Gżira’s rescue, minutes before the half-time whistle, to produce a finger-tip save on a Prsa’s header.
At the restart, the Spartans had two opportunities to go ahead when Mashike fired wide from inside the small area before Camenzuli’s effort also went wide.
In the 68th minute, Zarkov blocked Ederson’s effort from close-range as the stalemate continued to prevail.
But nine minutes from time, Zarkov could do nothing when Prsa found Montebello all alone on the edge of the area and the Maltese international fired a low strike into the far post.
On the brink of full-time, Bonello was tested by Maxuell’s desperate effort – a brilliant strike from the edge of the area but the Maltese goalkeeper diverted into a corner.
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