The Malta Independent 20 November 2017, Monday

Dramatic late twist earns Mosta a point as Sliema are lifted by De Assis strike

Silvio Vella Monday, 23 October 2017, 00:00 Last update: about 28 days ago
Photos: Jonathan Bugeja
Photos: Jonathan Bugeja

MOSTA                2

FLORIANA           2

Mosta: A. Vella, L. Ferreira, D. Mansi, T. Veronese, Z. Brincat (G. Nuti), D. Nworah (K. Frendo), T. Farrugia, D. Xuereb, E. Zarate, D. Fenech (C. Camilleri), I. Maric

Floriana: I. Akpan, E. Pepe, E. Ruiz, S. Pisani, I. Varela (J. Baldacchino), M. Vella, A. Cini, A. Oyama, D. Grima (C. Borg), M. Fontanella, E. Marcelina

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Referee: G. Tonna

Asst.refs: R. Vella, J. Spiteri

4th official: I. Barbara

Scorers: M. Vella 22, S. Pisani 75 pen, I. Maric 83, T. Farrugia 90+

Yellow cards: E. Zarate, D. Nworah, D. Mansi, D. Grima, S. Pisani, D. Xuereb, I. Maric

Red cards: A. Oyama, I. Maric

Player of the match: M. Vella (Floriana)

TMI top 3: 1. M. Vella  2. E. Zarate  3. T. Veronese

Trailing by two goals until seven minutes from the end, Mosta rallied to score twice, once deep in five minutes of added time, to draw level, against ten-man Floriana, who had defender Oyama sent off on the hour.

Mosta gave everything to see this out. They were quick to the ball, strong in the challenge, inspired by the creativity of Edison Zarate, and utterly determined to give it a fight.

It was one of those joyous occasions when football reminds you of its ability to conjure up a rare kind of excitement.

Floriana coach Tedesco knows his team have convinced more in previous matches. There might be disappointment for surrendering a two-goal lead, much because they looked composed even with ten men. But there is always a different kind of satisfaction to be taken, collecting points while not flowing,  as they remain the only unbeaten side after eight matches.

The Greens were bereft of the services of Nicholas Chiesa and Clyde Borg in midfield yesterday, replaced by Emerson Marcelina and Dylan Grima.

But for all Maurizio Vella's activity, with Steve Pisani in tandem, Floriana barely forced the Mosta keeper, Andreas Vella, into a save before they took the lead. It was a 22nd minute free kick which came at a stage when Mosta had more possession and carried more threat.

Maurizio Vella had won the free kick after his run was halted by Zarate's late tackle just outside the Mosta area on the right. Vella himself curled the ball low around the Mosta wall and beyond the keeper's reach.

Mosta, who had Kurt Magro absent and included Ivan Maric in defence, made the more assertive start and within the first 20 minutes they had already created three goalscoring opportunities. Fereira chased a long Veronese pass and outplayed Ruiz in the air but Flriana keeper Akpan rushed out to thwart him with a plucky save.

Zarate played a short free kick to Veronese, whose grounder was again saved by Akpan.

And, from a Veronese corner, Floriana took long to clear their lines, the ball fell to Nworah, whose effort landed on the roof of the net.

Floriana played with some renewed belief after taking the lead. Midway through the half Fontanella reached for Oyama's cross before the Mosta keeper but put his header over.

And before the break, the Floriana striker ran past Brincat but his low shot was footed out by keeper Vella.

Mosta were still in it though. On the half hour, Nworah again tested the Flroiana keeper Akpan with a fierce drive and on the stroke of halftime Zarate played a good ball to the unmarked Fenech who shot horrendously wide.

The first noteworthy episode of an eventful second half came when on the hour mark, Floriana had defender Oyama sent off after he collided with Nworah just outside the area as the Mosta player raced towards goal on a long Zarate splitting pass. From the resultant free kick Zarate thumped the ball against the bar.

On 75 minutes Mansi felled Vella inside the Mosta area to concede a penalty which Steve Pisani converted to give his side some more comfort.

Floriana looked heading towards a win. Mosta never allowed anxiety to creep in though. Seven minutes from time, on a Veronese sailing free kick from the left, Ivan Maric rose high to head tha ball past keeper Akpan.

It looked only like scant consolation for Mosta, who even had their scorer sent off for a second bookable offence minutes later.

More drama unfolded in added time. On Ferreira's cross, Tyrone Farrugia headed Mosta's equaliser to draw level and give the match a most dramatic twist.


Sliema lifted by De Assis strike

SLIEMA WANDERERS           1

HIBERNIANS                          0

Sliema W: G. Zammit, S. Bianciardi, M. Muchardi, F. Temile (R. Correa), G. Aquilina (P. Xuereb), J. De Assis, J. Pearson, E. Agius, F. Qeros, J. Mintoff, G. Adamovic

Hibernians: A. Hogg, M. Kreuzriegler (J. Degabriele), J. Lima (J. Mbong), D. Vella, R. Soares, M. Dias, C. Failla, J. Bezzina (B. Kristensen), J. Elias, A. Agius, M. Sahanek

Referee: S. Pace

Asst.refs: E. Spiteri, T. Debono

4th official: M. Spiteri

Scorers: J. De Assis 45+

Yellow cards: M. Dias, J. De Assis, J. Mintoff, J. Lima, C. Failla, J. Mbong, G. Zammit

Player of the match: J. De Assis (Sliema W)

TMI top 3: 1. J. De Assis  2. M. Dias  3. F. Qeros

Attendance: 775

A spectacular powerful strike by Jefferson De Assis on the stroke of halftime, was enough for Sliema Wanderers to beat champions Hibernians in yesterday’s second league match at the Centenary Stadium.

Thanks to this win, their second on the trot, the Wanderers move above Hamrun Spartans to catch up with the champions and Floriana, one point behind Balzan and five adrift of joint leaders Gzira United and Valletta.

It was also the second time that Sliema kept a clean sheet.

Sliema weathered some spells of pressure before pouncing with a moment of genuine class and seeing the game out with admirable composure.

They were an unchanged side after their good win against Birkirkara the previous week.

Andrei Agius played in the centre of a four-man defence for the Paolites, alongside Soares. Dunstan Vella,a busy 21-year-old midfielder who looks destined for a higher level, started instead of Bjorn Kristensen in front of the defence, with Jackson Lima by his side.

It was a watchable start, with both teams trying to find space down the flanks, although shots of little consequence were traded at either end for the first 22 minutes.

Then a Failla free kick carried some threat to the Sliema rearguard and a Bezzina shot from a distance on the half hour was saved by the Sliema keeper Glenn Zammit.

Hibernians' interplays, when they came off, were slicker and the right flank, with the overlaps of Dias, remained a source of promise.

The champions had pegged Sliema back for some time.

Bezzina had a low shot held out by keeper Zammit after a scramble inside the Sliema area. Vella then skied the loose ball.

Sliema stayed composed but were designed to break effectively at the first opportunity, relying on the speed of their forward Jefferson De Assis in attack. The chance came in the half's added time. He pounced on a high ball insidse the Hibernians' area and unleashed an unstoppable shot at the top corner to leave keeper Hogg helpless.

Hibernians tried to keep the tempo high early in the second half but there were nervy moments in their own box too as De Assis ran dangerously towards the byeline and glanced his diagonal shot fractionally wide. Pearson's header narrowly missed the target.

Hibernians' coach Mark Miller tried to freshen things up and put in Jurgen Degabriele for Kreuzriegler towards the hour. Sliema's counter move by John Buttigieg was the introduction of the more defensive Ricardo Correa for Temile.

Moments of alarm for Sliema were only sporadic, though. On 68 minutes a Lima dangerous free kick was cleared off the line by Adamovic.

Sliema were always posing their own threat on the counter. On 76 minutes De Assis won an aerial duel with Agius, advanced past Soares and sent a low cross which Qeros failed to conclude when hampered by keeper Hogg.

Sliema could now absorb an increasingly frazzled opponent's attempts to draw level. In the late stages, Jorge Elias headed Degabriele's cross over the bar.

But in truth, Hibernians' lack of response in the second half was by far the most disappointing aspect of a performance that had held such promise.

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