ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 2
Lokoli Ngoy 8 pen, Bondin 61
GUDJA UNITED 0
J. Azzopardi-6.5, H. Motta-6.5, S. Bugeja-6, L. Almeida-6.5, T. Bartolo-6 (61 Y. Tonna), A. Mizzi-6, S. Jankovic-6 (61 S. Miloskovic), C. Lokoli Ngoy-7, R. Sanchez-6, G. Gesualdi-6 (72 G. Mifsud), K. Bondin-6 (61 J. Macedo).
G. Zammit-6, J. Bolanos-5.5 (78 J. Mintoff), A. Prates, V. Plut-5.5, S. Attard-5.5 (46 T. Nagamatsu-6), J. Arthur-5.5, K. Micallef-5.5, H. Vella-5.5 (84 F. Zuniga), N. Tabone-6 (64 N. Micallef), M. Muchardi-6.5, N. Navarrete-6.5.
Referee: Stefan Pace.
Yellow cards: Bartolo, Tabone, Sanchez, Almeida, Bolanos.
Red card: Andre Prates (G) 51.
BOV Player of the Match: Charles Lokoli Ngoy (Żebbuġ).
An early penalty paved the way for Żebbuġ Rangers as they returned to winning ways, defeating Gudja United 2-0.
This win was a breath of fresh air for Brian Spiteri’s side who were coming from five successive defeats.
The Rangers have now managed to leapfrog Santa Lucia as they move third from bottom, two points ahead of their direct rivals.
The early goal, undoubtedly, filled Żebbuġ with courage and the dismissal of Andre Prates for Gudja made life even easier for them as they went on to seal the issue with a second goal.
Gudja coach Andrea Agostinelli opted for an unchanged side for Gudja while Brian Spiteri was forced to make changes as Wilker Rocha Santos and Almir Soto were ruled out through suspension. Henrique Motta, Travis Bartolo and Kurt Bondin were named in the starting line-up.
Żebbuġ could not have a better start, taking the lead on eight minutes.
Travis Bartolo floored Neil Tabone inside the area, referee Stefan Pace ordered a penalty and from the spot, Lokoli Ngoy duly converted.
This goal stunned Gudja and it was only towards the end of the first half that they threatened their opponents’ rearguard but found goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi on alert.
In fact, on 39 minutes, Matias Muchardi served Nicolas Navarrete whose close-range effort was blocked by the Żebbuġ custodian. A minute later, Neil Tabone provided an assist for Vito Plut but the Slovenian forward was anticipated by Azzopardi.
Six minutes in the second half, Gudja received another setback as Prates was sent off by referee Pace for a foul on Lokoli Ngoy.
Gudja still tried to push for the equaliser and substitute Tatsuro Nagamatsu went close with a powerful shot from outside the area on 57 minutes.
However, the Rangers doubled the score four minutes later.
Lokoli Ngoy concluded a good move on the left flank with an assist for Bondin who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Glenn Zammit.
Żebbuġ could have added another ten minutes later but a long-distance effort by substitute Stanimir Miloskovic was parried by Zammit.
In the remaining minutes, Gudja tried to reduce the arrears but their best attempt turned out to be a low shot by Tatsuro Nagamatsu which was turned into a corner by Azzopardi on 84 minutes.
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