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Gżira through to FA Trophy semi-finals after nerve-wrecking Gudja tie

GŻIRA UNITED     1

Muscat 90

GUDJA UNITED    1

Plut 29

(Gżira United win 4-3 on pens)

GŻIRA UNITED

D. Zarkov; G. Bohrer, L. Tabone, S. Pisani (68 B. Borg), Z. Scerri (63 N. Muscat), M. Dias (106 A. Borg), L. Riascos (63 Ewerton), T. Kolega, M. Cosic, Maxuell, Jefferson.

GUDJA UNITED

G. Zammit; J. Bolanos, A. Prates, T. Nagamatsu (87 F. Zuniga), V. Plut (99 I. Divaio), J. Arthur, K. Micallef, H. Vella, K. Micallef, H. Vella, N. Tabone (78 N. Micallef), M. Muchardi, N. Navarrete (90 S. Attard).

Referee Slobodan Petrovic.

Yellow cards Scerri, Prates, Riascos, Zammit, Maxuell, K. Micallef, N. Micallef, Arthur.

Penalty sequence Vella (GU) missed 0-0; Maxuell (GŻ) missed 0-0; Divaio (GU) scored 1-0; Cosic (GŻ) scored 1-1; Prates (GU) scored 2-1; Bohrer (GŻ) scored 2-2; Muchardi (GU) scored 3-2; Jefferson (GŻ) scored 3-3; Arthur (GU) missed 3-3; Muscat (GŻ) scored 4-3.

Gżira United captain Nikolai Muscat lived up to his role as he was the hero for the Maroons on two occasions as they advanced to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.

The Malta international, who started on the bench, cancelled Gudja’s one-goal lead with a stoppage-time leveller before converting the decisive penalty and guide his team into the last four of the competition.

For Gudja, the defeat will be hard to digest after putting a solid defensive display keeping the Maroons at bay for almost all game.

Gudja United produced the first opportunity when Neil Tabone fired a long-range effort but Darijan Zarkov parried it into corner.

The Blues continued to enjoy a bright start and they made their pressure count on minute 29 when clinical forward Vito Plut capitalised from point-blank range.

Gżira’s reply came through Maxuell but his close-range effort sailed over the bar.

After the interval, Gabriel Bohrer came close to level terms with a well-struck freekick only to see Zammit save on the goal line.

Jefferson was also denied by the Gudja goalkeeper with the Brazilian trying to lob the ball over him from inside the area.

Gżira coach Darren Abdilla deployed winter signing Ewertton and Nikolai Muscat in search for more inspiration to find a leveller as the second half wore on.

Bohrer tried his luck again, this time with a strike from the edge of the area but could not find the target.

Gżira upped their ante in the closing stages with Nikolai Muscat forcing Zammit into action with a brilliant free-kick.

With the Maroons seemingly heading out of the competition, Muscat let fly a stupendous volley to level matters.

Moments later, Maxuell almost find Gżira’s second but he fired wide as the game headed to extra-time.

Jefferson had the chance to put Gżira ahead in extra-time but once again could not have the better of Zammit from close-range, with the Gudja goalkeeper denying Maxuell as well after the Brazilian tried his luck with a towering header.

Eventually, the semi-finalist had to be determined via a penalty shoot-out with Nikolai Muscat, again, proving Gżira’s hero with the winning penalty.

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