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Watch: Akinbule strikes late to sink Floriana and leave Ħamrun Spartans at the top

Floriana striker Willy Furtado (right) tries to move past Nikola Raden. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

MARSAXLOKK 1

Akinbule 84

FLORIANA       0

MARSAXLOKK

M. Calleja Cremona, Weder, K. Micallef, N. Muscat, Y. Messias (90 Obonogwu), D. Bonnici, L. Aguirre, N. Raden R. Scicluna, S. Akinbule, F. Gomes (86 J. Ghio)

FLORIANA

G. Kitanov, O. El Hasni, K. Reid, U. Arias (60 J. Grech), Matheus (70 C. Rovas), D. Vella, O. Spiteri (K. Nwoko), M. Valadzko, A. Kouro, A. Garzia (60 C. Zammit Lonardelli), W. Furtado.

Referee: Trustan Farrugia Cann.

Yellow cards: Raden, Garzia, Weder, Aguirre, Akinbule.

Red card: Akinbule (M) 89.

Floriana’s title challenge suffered a major blow when they slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Marsaxlokk to lose their top placing in the Premier League standings at the expense of Ħamrun Spartans.

Sunday Akinbule scored the all-important goal six minutes from time to hand Marsaxlokk three priceless points that all but seals a top-four finish for the southerners.

On the other hand, the result has thrown the title race wide open ahead of next week’s direct clash between the two rivals Ħamrun Spartans and Floriana.

In fact, Ħamrun, buoyed by their 4-1 win over Santa Lucia, will head into the match with a one-point lead at the top with Floriana having no other option but to win next Saturday’s titanic clash if they are to regain control in this season’s title race.

Floriana came out strongly and it was Marsaxlokk goalkeeper Matthew Calleja Cremona who denied them the lead after 11 minutes.

Sunday Akinbule scores the winner for Marsaxlokk against Floriana.

Willy Furtado stormed inside the area and his shot was pushed away by the Marsaxlokk goalkeeper. Matheus was first on the rebound but the Brazilian was again denied by Calleja Cremona.

On 26 minutes, Marsaxlokk were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Maksim Valadzko looked to have used his arm to stop Fernando Gomes’ shot but referee Trustin Farrugia Cann waved play on.

Three minutes later, Furtado hit a fine inswinger that was pushed away by Calleja Cremona.

Marsaxlokk were defending solidly giving little room for the Greens forward to manouvre with the result that they were left with no option but to shoot from the distance with scant success.

On 41 minutes El Hasni shot from the distance but the ball flew over.

After the break, Floriana started to dominate the match but for all their possession they failed to create openings.

Instead Marsaxlokk came close on 58 minutes when Duane Bonnici motored his way through and fed Yuri Messias. The Brazilian evaded two players but fired wide.

A minute later, Bonnici sent a dangerous cross towards Fenandinho but the Brazilian failed to connect with the ball from a couple of metres out.

Fourteen minutes, from time Valasko almost scored for Floriana but his dipping header finished just wide.

With Floriana pushing for a winner they were light at the back and for that they were made to pay by Marsaxlokk.

The clock marked 84 minutes when Calleja Cremona’s long clearance found Messias who immediately played in Akinbule and the Nigerian hammered the ball into the net.

A minute from time, Marsaxlokk were reduced to ten men when Akinbule picked up a second yellow card for a clash with El Hasni.

Floriana threw caution to the wind and laid siege on the Marsaxlokk goal but could not beat the excellent Calleja Cremona as the southerners held on to the win.

In the other match played on Saturday, Naxxar Lions picked up a precious point in a goalless draw against Sliema Wanderers that all but seals their place in the top flight for another season.

SLIEMA WANDERERS  0

NAXXAR LIONS             0

SLIEMA WANDERERS

R. Al Tumi, J. Borg, D. Kouao, M. Beerman, Murilo (57 E. Agius), N. Frendo, J. Arthur G. Acheampong, M. Awad (85 N. Strickland), L. Micallef (69 D. Kondrakov), V. Plut (85 J. Engerer).

NAXXAR LIONS

M. Debono, J. Moura, F. Barbosa, R. Cassar, Maicon, Y. Ito, N. Pace Cocks, N. Micallef, Elizeu, Pablo, R. Blandon.

Referee: Andrea Sciriha.

Yellow card Cassar.

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