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Watch: Mbong’s late double hands Spartans dramatic win over Dinamo Tbilisi


Mbong 81, 90


Marusic 60


F. Marchetti, S. Borg, E. Marcelina, O. Bjelicic, J. Mbong, R. Camenzuli, Elionay (77 L. Montebello), R. Prsa, M. Krstic (46 Eder), U. Duranovic (77 Jonny), S. Paintsil.


G. Loria, A. Kalandadze, J. Tabidze (67 N. Mali), S. Khvadagiani, G. Maisuradze (68 L. Osikmashvili), A. Mekvabishili, G. Kharaishvili, O. Camara, O. Omar (67 G. Margvelashvili), B. Osei (Moistraphsvili), D. Skhirtlaadze (54 Z. Marusic).

Referee Milos Gigovic (Bosnia Herzegovina).

Yellow cards Tabidze, Elionay, Eder, Loria, Omar, Prsa, Margvelashvili.

Joseph Mbong emerged as the hero for Ħamrun Spartans as the Malta international striker scored a well-taken brace to hand his team a dramatic 2-1 win over Dinamo Tbilisi, of Georgia, in the UEFA Conference League.

It looked as though Ħamrun Spartans were set for a miserable night at the National Stadium when Marusic gave the Georgian champions the lead midway through the second half.

However, the Spartans refused to lie down and driven by Luciano Zauri’s positive changes, when he roped in two forwards, Jonny and Luke Montebello, and managed to do the unthinkable.

In fact, Mbong came to the fore when first he headed home the equaliser and then went on to score a last-gasp winner to hand his team and sent the thousands of fans into raptures.

The result puts the Spartans on pole to reach the next round but surely they still have a lot of work to do as Dinamo Tbilisi showed they were a very dangerous side and need to produce a great performance to progress.

Zauri effected just one change to the team that lost to Maccabi Haifa 2-1 in Israel last week, as Seth Paintsil was given his first start since his off-season move to the Malta champions at the expense of Jonny.

Paintsil played just behind main striker Uros Duranovic.

It was Tbilisi who threatened first when Giorgi Kharaisvili’s shot was deflected by Steve Borg into the hands of Federico Marchetti, the Ħamrun goalkeeper.

Ħamrun responded with a dipping header from Uros Duranovic that just missed the upright following a Roko Prsa corner kick.

On 15 minutes, the Spartans had another half chance when Elionay picked up a short rebound but his shot flew over.

Scoring chances remained few and far between and although Ħamrun Spartans enjoyed the lion’s share of possession they still struggled to create any danger to the Dinamo Tbilisi goal.

It was Dinamo who came close ten minutes from the break, when from an Oulad Omar corner kick, Osei saw his shot well saved by Marchetti.

The last chance of the half fell to Ħamrun Spartans when Paintsil picked Elionay on the edge of the area but the Brazilian’s shot was too central to trouble Tbilisi goalkeeper Loria.

On the restart, Zauri withdrew Krstic and brought on Brazilian midfielder Eder in a bid to more steel to his team’s engine room.

Dinamo Tbilisi looked far more aggressive in the second half as they tried to put the Spartans’ defence under pressure through the pace of their forwards.

Tbilisi had a huge chance on 50 minutes when Davit Skhirtladze outpowered Bjelicic in an aerial duel with the ball falling to the unmarked Osei, who with Marchetti only to beat, fired wide.

That aerial clash cost dear to Skhirtladze who suffered a facial injury and was replaced by Zoran Marusic.

The Serbian striker left an instant mark as on the hour mark he put Tbilisi ahead in his first contribution.

In a lightning attack, Oulad Omar chipped the ball into the path of Marusic who blasted the ball past Marchetti.

Ħamrun hit back immediately and two minutes later they came close to equalise when Paintsil teed the ball to Prsa whose fierce drive just missed the upright with Loria beaten.

The Georgians almost struck a second on 64 minutes when Marusic’s angled drive hit the upright.

At the other end, Camenzuli picked Paintsil whose diving header finished just over.

Thirteen minutes from time, Zauri tried to boost his forward line when he withdrew Elionay and Duranovic and roped in Jonny and Luke Montebello.

The move reaped the desired dividends as on 79 minutes, Prsa won a free-kick on the edge of the area and Bjelicic’s shot was somehow kept out by Loria and from the rebound Montebello picked Mbong who headed home.

The goal gave the Spartans’ belief and four minutes from time, Mbong found Jonny but his shot lacked power to trouble Loria.

Marchetti came to his team’s rescue when he managed to keep out Camara’s shot from routine distance.

Tbilisi again threatened from the resultant corner as Marusic’s header came off the upright.

The Serbian striker continued to threaten and in the fourth minute of stoppage time he incredibly headed wide with only Marchetti to beat.

Those missed chances came to haunt Tbilisi as just before the referee blew the final whistle, Camenzuli sent a cross into the path of Mbong who diverted the ball past Loria to the delight of the Ħamrun Spartans fans.

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