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Floriana climb to Premier League summit as Marsaxlokk, Birkirkara share points

Floriana's Kemar Reid (right) fires at goal against Sirens in the BOV Premier League on Saturday. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Floriana claimed the Premier League high ground if only for a few hours with a comfortable win over Sirens on Saturday, to keep pressure on Hamrun Spartans.

Hamrun can regain the top spot if they beat Mosta on Sunday (KO: 2pm).

Meanwhile, Birkirkara and Marsaxlokk shared a goalless stalemate as both sides remain joint-fourth in the BOV Premier League standings.



Reid 25, Nogureira 56, Veselji 87

SIRENS A. Cassar, P. Boakye, H. Gomda, H. Panayiotou (82 E. Ceesay), A. Cini, B. Asare (66 C. Agyemong), B. Murillo, K. Donsu (90 C. Matthews), D. Jackson (Z. Bartolo), K. Ntampizas, D. Agius (90 O. llic).

FLORIANA G. Kitanov, O. El Hasni, K. Reid, M. Nogureira (77 L De Garzia), D. Vella (76 J. Arias), O. Spiteri, M. Garcia, C. Zammit Lonardelli (63 A. Garzia), M. Valadzko, C. Rovas (63 K. Nwoko), L. Furtado (85 M. Veselji).

Referee Emanuel Grech.

Yellow card Vella.

Mauro Camoranesi’s Floriana started with real passion, a glint in their eyes that only the sight of the table summit could bring.

They made their attacking intentions clear from the outset. They created their first opening in the first minute. Dunstan Vella broke down the middle channel but Sirens goalkeeper Andrea Cassar flew to his left to make a smart block.

On 25 minutes, Bismark Asare sent Maksim Valadzko crashing, to end another serious venture towards the Sirens penalty area. From the ensuing freekick, Floriana forward Kemar Reid hit a delightful left-foot strike that bent viciously away from Cassar’s despairing dive.

A few moments later, the Greens surged forward again, and Matias Garcia was the provider, threading the deftest of through-balls for Reid to run onto. But the Malta striker was held back by Konstantinos Ntampizas to end Floriana’s devastating counter-attack.

Sirens goalkeeper Andrea Cassar climbs to collect the ball against Floriana. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Floriana stepped up a gear after the break and doubled their lead on 58 minutes.  A simple pass from Reid found Matheus Nogureira who applied an emphatic finish, smashing the ball into the top corner.

The Greens were vastly superior to the point that Willis Furtado almost stuck one of the goals of the season when he wrapped his left around his right leg to try an audacious Rabona strike from the edge of the box which crashed against the crossbar.

The lively Furtado was a bag of tricks on the pitch and from a short corner, he unleashed a side foot effort which smacked against the crossbar with Cassar reduced to the role of spectator.

That was the last contribution Furtado made to the game as he then made way for Mattia Veselji. The youngster outshined the French striker immediately, when a minute after his introduction, he hammered a precise diagonal shot into the top corner.

Marsaxlokk, Birkirkara stay fourth after goalless draw



MARSAXLOKK M. Drobnjak, Weder, K. Micallef, N. Muscat, N. Portelli (83 S. Boakye), J. Ghio (71 S. Akinbule), Y. Messias, L. Agius, N. Raden, R. Scicluna, J. Junior.

BIRKIRKARA M. Zapytowski, E. Pepe, P. Mbong (89 E. Sarpong), A. Zammit (71 N. Agius), K. Zammit, A. Satariano, E. Pena Beltre, N. Micallef (59 M. Maia), S. Zibo, A. Diakite, A. Ciolacu.

Referee Slobodan Petrovic.

Yellow cards Scicluna, Pena Beltre, Ghio, Raden.

Earlier, Marsaxlokk and Birkirkara were eyeing to consolidate their place in the table rather than aspiring to inch closer to third-placed Sliema. Although victory was key, it did not figure in either team’s vocabulary at the end of a match which produced no goals. The score was fair as both teams cancelled each other out in an abrasive contest that offered little in the way of scoring opportunities.

Birkirkara might argue that they were more adventurous, but Marsaxlokk deserve credit for holding firm.

The Stripes began well as their trident striking formation kept the south seasiders at full stretch. But it was Marsaxlokk’s Nikolai Muscat who provided the first flurry. The unbalanced Enmy Pena Beltre allowed him a clear path towards Marcel Zaptowski but he rifled a harried shot straight at the Polish goalkeeper.

Birkirkara tried to go wide to find elusive space and Neil Micallef whipped in a cross with which Alexander Satariano was a whisker away from making contact.

Birkirkara’s Paul Mbong (left) shields the ball from Marsaxlokk’s José Gomes Junior. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Satariano had the clearest opening of the first half on 41 minutes when he found himself in space inside the box, only for Marko Drobnjak to block his shot.

In the second half, Birkirkara were timid as an attacking force and their best outlet was some forceful running from Satariano. It was the cue for coach José Borg to introduce Maxuell Maia.

Marsaxlokk’s chances were few and far between, but they could have taken a shock lead after 70 minutes as José Gomes Junior hit a firm shot against the crossbar with Zapytowski beaten.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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