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Ħamrun Spartans return top, Valletta and Gżira United settle for a point

Juan Corbalan (right) scored one of Ħamrun Spartans' four goals. Photo: Jonathan Bugeja

Sliema Wanderers cement third place, Gudja United on the brink.

Elionay Freitas 4; Luke Montebello 43, 70; Juan Corbalan 45.

Ħamrun Spartans regained the top spot in the BOV Premier League after a comfortable 4-0 victory over Mosta in Sunday’s early kick-off.

Forward Luke Montebello, winner of January’s Player of the Month, cemented his lead in the league’s scoring charts with another brace, moving to 18 goals.

Luciano Zauri’s Ħamrun are back first on 49 points, one point above Floriana who defeated Sirens on Saturday.

The Spartans have now scored 15 victories with 47 goals scored, the league’s best attacking record after 20 outings.

They will face Marsaxlokk in next weekend’s clash where they will be missing captain Steve Borg who was given the marching orders four minutes from time, leaving the Spartans a man down.

Ħamrun put themselves in the driving seat early in the match when Elionay Freitas opened the score after just four minutes of play.

The Spartans made sure of the win with a couple of quickfire goals just before the break through Montebello and Juan Corbalan.

Malta forward Montebello sealed Ħamrun’s four-goal victory with a 70th-minute strike.

For Mosta, this was their eighth defeat of the season as they remain embroiled in the relegation battle with 23 points.

D. Akpan (46 D. Ciappara); A. Gustavo, H. Chidera, L. Precious (46 E. Mensah), G. Sciberras, A. Hovhannisyan, B. Dao, W. Britto, J. Scerri (46 D. Aneni), J. Vassallo (74 S. Cachia), K. Tulimieri (46 J. Farrugia).

F. Marchetti; S. Borg, L. Montebello (83 O. Bjelicic), E. Freitas (74 R. Prsa), U. Duranovic, J. Corbalan, N. Krstic, E. Marcelina, R. Camenzuli (10 J. Mbong), Jonny (76 S. Paintsil).

Referee: Fyodor Zammit.

Yellow cards: Adolfo, Dao, Vassallo, Jonny.

Red card: Steve Borg 86 (Ħamrun Spartans).

Alex Bruno 38; Jurgen Degabriele 39, 40

A late first-half blitz handed Hibernians a 3-0 win over Gudja United as the latter’s relegation to the BOV Challenge League is now imminent.

The Paolites scored three goals between the 38th and the 40th minute through Alex Bruno and a Jurgen Degabriele brace to register their eighth win of the season.

Branko Nisevic’s side are in sixth on 29 points, one behind Birkirkara and Marsaxlokk who shared the spoils in Saturday’s direct encounter.

On the other hand, Gudja remain anchored at the bottom with six points to show for their efforts.

Renzo Kerr Cumbo’s team is only top-flight side without a single victory so far.

J. Pisani; Brenner, S. Attard (63 M. Conti), M. Muchardi, L. Gatt, R. Nanitelamio (57 W. Serrano), Z. Grech, A. Friggieri, M. Esposito, G. Joseph, G. Zammit (87 S. Nwafor).

I. Kone; F. Apap, K. Shaw, L. Caruana, S. Zuzul (66 R. Bairam), J. Degabriele, S. Okoh, A. Bruno, G. Artiles, M. Bagayoko (71 Z. Grech), G. Bastianos (71 R. Antwi).

Referee: Daniel Portelli.

Yellow cards: Gatt, Conti.

Brandon Paiber 16 (V); Kyle Spence 29 (G).

Valletta and Gżira United had to settle for a point each as they crossed swords in a crucial match from the bottom half of the Premier League.

The Citizens registered their second consecutive draw as they move to three points behind Mosta, although they are still third from bottom.

On the other hand, the Maroons are now seventh on 25 points but just two points clear of the drop.

With six matches, the relegation battle continues to intensify with five points separatine the six teams placed between 7th and 12th in the 14-team championship.

Gżira United tried to impose themselves on the game from the early stages of the game, in search for an early lead.

The Maroons threatened more than once through set-pieces including a Thiago Espindola’s effort from the edge of the area but none of the chances were enough to beat Alessandro Guarnone.

Nonetheless, it was the Citizens who broke the deadlock with a brilliant freekick by Brandon Paiber who followed up last weekend’s goal against Ħamrun Spartans for his third strike of the season.

Gżira managed to level terms through Kyle Spence who capitalised on a low cross by Thaylor Aldama.

At the break, Valletta made one change with Milan Jezdimirovic replacing Goncalo Braganca who was cautioned in the opening 45 minutes.

As the second half wore on, neither side could muster up a serious chance with Valletta’s coach, Juan Cruz Gil, opting to deploy David Garba to bolster their attacking line.

Gżira came close to retake the lead when Carlos Filho’s header was blocked by Guarnone before ricocheting on the crossbar in one of the rare chances after the restart.

That was meant to be the game’s final chance as with the decline in the match’s tempo and the two teams not risking much, Valletta and Gżira could not go beyond the draw.

A. Guarnone; J. Bolanos, E. Ruiz, S. Dimech (65 D. Garba), G. Braganca (46 M. Jezdimirovic), J. Azzopardi (86 K. Ewurum), F. Falcone, B. Paiber, V. Filho (86 J. Benites), N. Micallef, A. Silas.

D. Zarkov; C. Filho, G. Bohrer, Thaylor, Z. Scerri, M. Dias, K. Spence, F. Zuniga, Ewertton (76 A. Borg), B. Borg (84 D. Boadu), T. Espindola.

Referee: Ishmael Barbara.

Yellow cards: Braganca, Aldama.

Geoffrey Acheampong 47, Vito Plut 84, Neil Frendo 89 (S); Tatsuro Nagamatsu 59 (L).

Vito Plut and Neil Frendo were the super subs as their late goals handed Sliema Wanderers a 3-1 victory over Sta Lucia.

The Blues have cemented their third place as they are on the edge to make their return to European football after a decade.

Led by coach Paul Zammit, Sliema have now won 12 out of their 20 league appointments having scored 24 goals and conceded just once, including on Sunday courtesy of Tatsuro Nagamatsu.

In fact, the Japanese player had cancelled Geoffrey Acheampong’s leading goal for Sliema to level terms just before the hour mark.

However, Slovenian forward Plut scored 10 minutes after coming of the bench before Neil Frendo, also a substitute, grabbed Sliema’s third deep in stoppage time.

For Sta Lucia, this was their 10th loss of the campaign as they remain 11th on 22 points, trailing Mosta by one.

T. Aquilina; J. Borg, J. Minala, J. Engerer (74 N. Frendo), S. Gomes (87 E. AGIUS_, M. Beerman, G. Alcino, J. Adukor, M. Henrique (74 V. Plut), G. Acheampong (90 J. Arthur), M. Award.

F. Filho; M. Ellul, A. Ogouvide (28 S. Xerri), D. Letherby (46 G. Virano), S. Pisani, T. Nagamatsu, A. Bradshaw (69 T. Abraham), J. Pisani, A. Mrdja, S. Moracci (84 E. Gomes). P. Ramos.

Referee: Alex Johnson.

Yellow cards: Minala, Engerer, Henrique, Letherby, Bradshaw, Adukor, Micallef, Filho, Abraham, Moracci.  

Standings provided by Sofascore

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