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Jefferson hits hattrick as Gżira condemn Żebbuġ to Challenge League

Gżira United's Jefferson hits a shot ahead of Shaun Bugeja's challenge. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier


Jefferson 49, 66, 78;  Ribeiro 63



D. Zarkov-6, L. Tabone-6, N. Muscat-6, S. Pisani-6 (46 L. Ribeiro-7), Z. Scerri-6 (76 A. Borg), M. Dias-6, T. Kolega-6, J. Ewertton-7.5 (76 B. Borg), M. Cosic-6, Jefferson-7 (81 H. Kabar), J. Mendoza-6 (81 D. Pace).


M. Chetcuti-5, H. Motta-4, S. Bugeja-5 (79 S.Miloskovic), L. Almeida-4, Y. Tonna-5.5, (69 A. Maldonado) A. Mizzi-5.5 (79 G. Tanti), C. Lokali Ngoy-5, R. Sanchez-6, R. Vella-5, J. Sciberras-5 (69 T. Bartolo), K. Bondin-5 (57 J. Macedo).

Referee: Alex Johnson.

Yellow cards: Scerri, Bondin, Dias, Motta.

BOV player of the match: Ewertton (Gżira United).

A rampant Gżira United swept away their opponents to secure European football this summer as they bagged four second-half goals to condemn Żebbuġ to the Challenge league.

Żebbuġ could have guaranteed the play-off spot with a victory since Sta Lucia lost to Mosta in a match played simultaneously, but they never threatened to get the win they needed.

The season is not over for Gżira as the Maroons now are pinning their hopes on the FA Trophy to finally land some silverware.

It was an evening of drama and tension at the Centenary Stadium, with emotions ebbing and flowing as scores from the other games were received on mobile phones.

The Maroons started in pole position but news soon filtered that Hibernians and Balzan had taken leads against Floriana and Birkirkara. At this point, all three teams were on par with 46 points.

Roared on by their fans, Gżira started at a blistering pace and should have scored immediately when Ewertton hit the foot of the post.

Birkirkara cancelled out Balzan’s opener and with Mosta momentarily losing to Sta Lucia, Hibernians were the beneficiaries initially.

But Żebbuġ, without their suspended coach Brian Spiteri, soon created chances of their own.  On 15 minutes, Roberto Sanchez’s inswinger from a corner looked destined to sail into the net but Gżira goalkeeper Darijan Zarkov punched the ball away.

With a forceful wind blowing behind their backs, Gżira failed to run the show in the opening half and it was not until the last minute of the first half that they managed to wake their crowd out of their slumber. Steven Pisani, still lying on the ground, hit a volley but Miguel Chetcuti was struck on the head with the ball.

But the half finished goalless, with the situation in the other games at the break meaning a goal would be enough to move Gżira out of sight. 

The Maroons emerged for the second-half more determined and Jefferson beat Chetcuti from close range after 49 minutes.

Lucas Ribeiro de Oliveira doubled the Maroons, collecting Ewertton’s sublime pass and drilling the ball past Checuti, after arriving as a half-time substitute.

Gżira pressed for a third and three minutes later, Zachary Scerri crossed for Jefferson to impressively head home.

On 78 minutes, the Brazilian came up with a huge goal to complete his hat-trick as he met Jackson Mendoza with a diving header, which propelled him to finish the league’s top scorer with 21 goals.

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