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Żebbuġ Rangers hold Marsaxlokk to boost survival hopes

Marsaxlokk's Ayrton Attard (left) holds off Żebbuġ Rangers defender Travis Bartolo. Photo: Christine Borg


Xuereb 2


Lokoli Ngoy 47

MARSAXLOKK M. Drobnjak-6.5, U. Edafe, A. Attard-5 (64 T. Vella), K. Keqi-6, C. Bonanni-5, P. Xuereb-6, A. Ferraris-5, L. Aguirre-7, R. Scicluna-5, V. Sanago-5.5 (77 F. Moracci), T. Fonesca-5.

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS J. Azzopardi-6, H. Motta-6, S. Bugeja-5, T. Bartolo-6 (78 S. Miloskovic), Wilker-6, A. Mizzi-5, S. Jankovic-6 (57 Jeferson), C. Lokoli Ngoy-6.5, E. Sanchez-6.5, J. Gesualdi-5, K. Bondin-5 ( 57 A. Maldonado).

Referee Ishmael Barbara.

Yellow cards Wilker, Gesualdi.

BOV player of the match Leandro Aguirre.

Red Card  Edafe Uzeh (Marsaxlokk) 90.

Żebbuġ Rangers earned a valuable point in their relegation battle as they held Marsaxlokk to a 1-1 draw on Sunday at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

The point took on extra significance with relegation rivals Santa Lucia and Pietà Hotspurs both losing this weekend.

Marsaxlokk were quick out of the blocks and Peter Xuereb scored inside the opening 70 seconds, heading over Jamie Azzopardi and into the net from a Leandro Aguirre corner. But Żebbuġ reacted and Charles Lokoli Ngoy equalised from the spot after the break.

In the second minute, Aguirre floated the corner into the Żebbuġ box and Xuereb outjumped the static defence to loop his header over Azzopardi.

Brian Spiteri’s men looked shell-shocked and were unable to fashion any serious response. When they did get going, the Rangers threatened sporadically, with Roberto Sanchez and Charles Lokoli Ngoy both posing Marsaxlokk problems.

On the half-hour mark, Wilker got on the end of a superb ball from Travis Bartolo, but Marko Drobnjak pulled off an incredible reflex save to deny the Brazilian defender.

The Serbian goalkeeper produced a second good stop four minutes later when Sanchez got on the end of another flowing Żebbuġ move.

After the interval, Marsaxlokk again tried to pick up the pace but their game plan appeared to be in tatters when Ryan Scicluna made an awful mistake to let Żebbuġ back into the match. Stefan Jankovic was illegitimately tackled by the former Birkirkara defender inside the box. From the ensuing spot kick, Lokali Ngoy restored the equilibrium.

Pablo Doffo’s side, meanwhile, were limited to sporadic attacks in the Żebbuġ half but were given the perfect chance to go 2-1 up on 63 minutes when Kristian Keqi sprung the off-side trap and served substitute Terence Vella who eluded his marker but shot over the top.

Aguirre’s running on the left was causing Żebbuġ problems, but too often the winger was not played in when in a good position as Marsaxlokk made the wrong decisions. However, on 72 minutes, the Argentine defender delivered a teasing cross but Tiago Fonseca failed to make contact in front of a gaping goal.

Aguirre eventually took aim and was only denied by a magnificent save by Azzopardi.

There was plenty of attacking intent from both teams in the last 15 minutes but neither could manufacture a clear chance and a draw was probably a fair outcome. At death, Marsaxlokk finished in ten men after Uzeh Edafe was given his marching orders.

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