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Maxuell brace propels Birkirkara to Sirens win, Marsaxlokk held by Hibernians

Maxuell scored Birkirkara's second goal with a delightful acrobatic move. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Victories for Sliema, Balzan as Naxxar Lions stun Valletta

Birkirkara secured a much-needed win over Sirens while Naxxar Lions added more woes to Valletta after beating them in Sunday’s late-kick-off.

In addition, Sliema Wanderers scored twice to beat Gudja United while there is some relief for Balzan who defeated neighbours Mosta.

The Blues, together with Valletta, remain embroiled in the relegation red zone fight after the Citizens fell at the hands of this season’s surprise package Naxxar Lions.

Akadom 65 (S); Maxuell 9, 63 (B).

A goal in each half by Maxuell helped Birkirkara secure a hard-fought win over lowly Sirens to secure their third win in their last four league games.

The Stripes, led by Brian Chetcuti who is expected to remain at the helm for the rest of the season, are now in fifth position on 20 points.

On the other hand, Sirens remain anchored at the bottom with just six points to show for their efforts despite their gutsy display against a much-quoted side in Birkirkara.

Birkirkara broke the deadlock early in the game when Kurt Zammit teed up forward Maxuell with the Brazilian slotting past Andrea Cassar inside the opening nine minutes.

After taking the lead, the Stripes continued to dominate proceedings but for all the possession they had, they could not make their pressure count.

Maxuell almost doubled Birkirkara’s lead just to see Andrea Cassar block his close-range shot on the goal line.

The former Gżira United forward threatened again with a low drive but Sirens’ goalkeeper Cassar was once again alert to avert the danger.

After the change of ends, Sirens were looking to inch their way up the field in search for an equaliser but Birkirkara punished them with a counter-attack at the first time of asking.

Andrei Ciolacu received a brilliant through ball before whipping a cross towards Maxuell. The Brazilian capitalised on the cross with a delightful scissors kick to beat Cassar from inside the penalty area.

Nonetheless, Sirens were far from beaten when Hafiz Akadom beat his marker Paul Mbong to fire past Marcel Zapytowski, moments after Maxuell’s second goal.

The Stripes almost restored their two-goal lead but Ciolacu was unlucky to see his freekick struck the crossbar before rolling out.

The Romanian was once again unfortunate not to list his name on the scoresheet after being denied by an inspiring Cassar.

At the other end of the field, Zapytowski produced a finger-tip save to keep Sirens at bay as Steve D’Amato’s side remained dangerous whenever they entered the final third.

However, the Stripes managed to preserve their narrow lead to secure their sixth win of the season.

Joachim Adukor 40, Geoffrey Acheampong 80.

A goal in each half handed Sliema Wanderers their first win of the new year after beating Gudja United in Sunday’s early kick-off.

Liberian midfielder Joachim Adukor opened his Sliema account in his fifth appearance as he found the net five minutes before the half-time whistle.

After the change of ends, Gudja – under the new guidance of Renzo Kerr Cumbo who replaced Jesmond Zammit – failed to find a leveller before Paul Zammit’s Sliema wrapped up the win through Acheampong’s goal ten minutes from time.

Gudja United’s Gianluca Zammit (left) protects the ball from Myles Beerman of Sliema Wanderers. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Moments later, Gudja ended up a man down after Walter Serrano was given the marching orders.

Following their eighth win of the season, Sliema kept hold of the third place as they move to 25 points.

On the other hand, Gudja remain second bottom with six points as they remain the only team yet to secure a victory in this campaign.

Yuri 45 (M); Rodney Antwi 60 (H).

Marsaxlokk and Hibernians cancelled each other out in Sunday’s opening game at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

Winston Muscat’s Marsaxlokk side opened the score just before half-time through Yuri.

Hibernians, who were down to ten men on the 74th minute after Ferdinando Apap’s sending off, grabbed the equaliser through Rodney Antwi on the hour mark.

Branko Nisevic, Hibs’ coach, handed a debut to Mamadou Bagayako at the heart of the midfield after the Ivory Coast player joined the club in this winter transfer window.

Marsaxlokk are fourth on 20 points while Hibernians are seventh on 18.

Aleksa Andrejic 46, 85

Balzan returned to winning ways thanks to an Aleksa Andrejic brace move to 17 points as they remain in eighth position.

For Oliver Spiteri’s side, this was their fifth win of the season and their first since December 2 when they defeated Sirens.

Mosta, on their part, are 11th with 11 points after slipping to their fifth defeat of the campaign.

Federico Falcone 48 (V); Takuma Yamaguchi 5, Edson Farias 31 (N).

Naxxar Lions stunned Valletta to score their fifth win of the season and move to sixth place in the Premier League.

Takuma Yamaguchi opened the score just after five minutes before Edson Farias doubled the lead for the Lions past the half-hour mark.

Takuma Yamaguchi (left) reacting after scoring the first goal for Naxxar Lions. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Valletta tried to stage a reaction, pulling one back in the process through Federico Falcone, but it was not enough for them to succumb to their fifth loss of the season.

The Citizens are joint-level with Mosta on 11 points, just above the relegation red zone.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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