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Żebbuġ Rangers score crucial victory over relegation rivals Pieta’ Hotspurs

Charles Lokoli Ngoy charges forward against Pieta Hotspurs. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

PIETÁ HOTSPURS        0

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS      2

Macedo 52, Motta 80

PIETÁ HOTSPURS

S. Moschin-6.5, S. Okoh-5, C. Bangura-4, O. Abraham-5, J. Ghio-6 (74 D. Schembri Wismayer), T. Agius-6 (61D. Miranda), A. Hovhannisyan-4 (85 K. Briffa), K. Leonardi-6, Z. Leonardi-5, A. Ogungbe, T. Yamaguchi-4 (85 G. Xuereb)

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS

J. Azzopardi-6, H. Motta-7, L. Almeida-6, Y. Tonna-6, A. Mizzi-6.5 (90 G. Mifsud), S. Jankovic-6 (64 S. Miloskovic) , C. Lokoli-7, R. Sanchez-8 (90 J. Sciberras), R. Vella-7, J. Machedo-6.5 (79 K. Bondin), J. Gesualdi-6.

Referee : Malcolm Spiteri.

Yellow card: Ghio, Ogungbe, Macedo, Almeida.

Red card: Ogungbe (P) 83.

BOV player of the match: Charles Lokoli Ngoy (Żebbuġ Rangers).

Żebbuġ Rangers improved their survival chances with a vital 2-0 win over rivals Pieta Hotspurs.

The turning point of the match arrived just before half-time when Terence Agius collided with Żebbuġ goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi before Randall Vella pulled off a vital clearance on the line.

The Hotspurs’ players thought that referee Malcolm Spiteri would point to the spot, instead, he signalled the end of the half.

Predictably, Żebbuġ started stronger, looking for an early blow that would calm their nerves.

Jefferson had the first chance, collecting the ball on the right flank before striking a shot that was blocked by Simone Moschin.

The hard-working Charles Lokoli Ngoy was the most likely creative source, making ground and pulling back for Roberto Enrique Sanchez but again Moschin was on hand to block on 23 minutes.

Three minutes later, Lokoli Ngoy found space in the penalty aera, only to shoot weakly into Moschin’s hands.

After weathering the initial storm, the Hotspurs sprang to life just before half-time.

Agius was the centre of attention as the game boiled over in the final minutes of the first half.

Agius chipped the ball over Azzopardi but went down after colliding with the goalkeeper with the consequence that Randall Vella recovered his position to clear the ball off the line. Referee Malcolm Spiteri waved away Pietá’s protests for a penalty.

Following their lucky escape, Żebbuġ were re-energised by Brian Spiteri’s half-time talk and broke the deadlock on 52 minutes.  Jeferson Macedo put his team ahead after collecting a sweeping Stefan Jankovic pass.

The Hotspurs reacted immediately when Kian Leonardi avoided the offside trap as he sprinted clear but his shot crashed against the post.

On 74 minutes, substitute David Schembri Wismayer blocked on Sanchez after Macedo dummied Lokoli Ngoy’s pass.

Ten minutes from time, Żebbuġ sealed the points when Henrique Marcelino Motta headed home after connecting to Sanchez’s cross.

Down to 10 men after Atanda Ogungbe was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence, the Hotspurs pushed forward bravely in search of a goal but to no avail.

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