The Malta Independent 24 October 2018, Wednesday

Football Premier League -- Samb puts Gzira back on track

Sunday, 10 December 2017, 19:00 Last update: about 12 months ago

GZIRA UNITED             2

VALLETTA                      1


Gzira U: J. Haber, R. Briffa, A. Cohen (G. Muir), N. Okoye, A. Samb, A. Macedo, S. Diamoutene, Z. Scerri, S. Borg, M. Avila Perez, J. Corbolan (N. Muscat)


Valletta: H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, J. Cruz (R. Muscat), S. Malano (D. Dos Santos), M. Picciollo (U. Uchenna), K. Nwoko J. Borg, J. Zerafa, R. Saleh, C. Pani

Referee: F. Zammit

Asst.refs: L.Portelli, S. Attard

4th official: M. Degabriele

Scorers: A. Samb 3, J. Corbolan 6, D. Dos Santos 66 pen

Yellow cards: M. Picciollo, J. Zerafa, A. Samb, M. Avila Perez, R. Briffa, S. Diamoutene

Red card: S. Borg

Player of the match: A. Samb (Valletta)

TMI top 3:   1. A. Samb  2. M. Avila Perez  3. J. Zerafa

Attendance: 914






Gzira United came back with a bang yesterday as they defeated the in-form Valletta, and closed the gap on leaders Balzan to three points. They also steadied any nerves after a run of five points in as many league matches.

This was the perfect response after a cruel FA Trophy defeat by Hamrun Spartans.

With one of their strongest attacking performances so far this season, and Amadou Samb their inspiration, the Maroons halted Valletta's sequence of seven unbeaten matches.

Gzira worked tremendously hard for this win and they certainly deserved the ovation they received at the end.

The Maroons always seemed to have complete control in midfield thanks to the industry of Andrew Cohen, Moises Avila Perez and Zach Scerri, always ready to find the right pass.

A bubbly first half saw them take an early two-goal lead, through Samb and Corbolan, before their opponents had even settled into the game.

Valletta faced an uphill task, going two goals down inside the opening six minutes and having midfielder Juan Cruz substituted because of a groin injury soon after.

A second half penalty gave them some brief hopes but these were dispelled as their opponents showed no signs of cracking down.


In the absence of the suspended Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Gzira reshuffled their defence, with Roderick Briffa playing as right back, Sacha Borg on the left and Diamoutene and Macedo the two central defenders.

Gzira made an assertive start with the breakthrough coming after only three minutes on the clock. Sacha Borg crossed from the left and Amadou Samb won the aerial duel with Jean Borg to head in from close range.

Jean Borg was still receiving head treatment when the Maroons doubled their lead with a sixth minute goal as Juan Corbolan advanced inside the Valletta area from the left and grounded keeper Bonello with a low diagonal drive.

Corbolan limped off after 10 minutes and was replaced by Nikolai Muscat.

After introducing Rowen Muscat for Cruz, Valletta pressed forward, committing more numbers in attack.

A Malano direct free kick from the edge of the area did not carry enough power to trouble Justin Haber in the Gzira goal.

There was always the danger for Valletta being caught at the back. On 20 minutes, keeper Bonello missed the ball on a Samb cross from the right but Okoye's effort was deflected into a corner.

Towards the half hour, Okoye's cross shot from the left, after getting the better of Steve Borg, narrowly missed the target.

On the other end, Valletta responded with a Muscat volley from some 25 metres out that landed on the roof of the net but Gzira's attacking moves from the irrepressible Samb always carried threat. Before the half was over, he clipped the bar with a rising shot and then had another effort from outside the area going tantalisingly wide.

Valletta pinned Gzira back when the second half started. They dominated possession but the Maroons were rarely carved open and looked brighter in every department.

A Cohen free kick caused panic inside the Valletta area but Okoye failed to finish off.


With Denni Dos Santos going in for Malano on 56 minutes, Valletta fond some renewed belief and ten minutes later they were handed a lifeline. Muscat fell under the challenge of a Gzira player inside the area to win a penalty, with Gzira protesting the decision before, Denni unerringly converted to reduce the deficit.

Valletta were relentless in pursuit of an equaliser. Zerafa crossed low. Uchenna, who had replaced Picciollo, miskicked the ball.

But Gzira were still hungry to increase the lead. On 79 minutes, Okoye put his effort past keeper Bonello but was denied by the post after good work from Samb.

That mattered little because Gzira held on and were not to be denied.

Valletta's confidence has been fractured, evident by Steve Borg's dismissal with a straight red card in added time. Belief must be rebuilt before the league heads into the Christmas break.






Tarxien move out of relegation zone



ST ANDREWS              2


St Andrews: M. Calleja Cremona, P. Beltre', A. Borg, A. Friggieri, M. Gomez, K. Butler (M, Grima), K. Atkinson, J. Farrugia, J. Walker (L. Grech), M. Davis (K. Reid), T. Blagrove

Tarxien R: A. Chetcuti, E. Baker, M. Brincat, M. Dieye, A. Agius, L. Grech, A. Scicluna, A. Benes, R. Faria (M. Traore), S. Cipriott (G. McKay), M. Desira Buttigieg (J. Brincat)

Referee: E. Grech

Asst.refs: D. Sultana, D. Petrovic

4th official: S. Pace

Scorers: J. Farrugia 9 pen, R. Faria 25, 78, M. Dieye 36 pen, K. Reid 72

Yellow cards: T. Blagrove,  M. Dieye, A. Borg, G. McKay

Red cards: T. Blagrove

Player of the match: M. Dieye (Tarxien R)

TMI top 3: 1. M. Dieye  2. A. Agius  3. M. Gomez



Spurred by a brace from Ricardo Faria and a penalty from Matar Dieye,Tarxien Rainbows halted a winless streak of five matches with an important victory against fellow strugglers St Andrews to move out of the relegation zone, above Naxxar Lions in 11th place.

They fought from a goal down to score twice before halftime, and then hit back immediately, after St Andrews had drawn level, scoring the winning goal in the late stages.

St Andrews played with ten men for more than an hour, after having their defender Blagrove sent off after 36 minutes.

For all their togetherness and tenacity, expressed under new coach Michael Woods, the Saints were unable to avoid yet another defeat that leaves them firmly in relegation trouble as they stay winless in eight matches in all competitions.

Woods did not make many changes. Ricardo Martin was suspended and replaced by Kevaun Atkinson while Miranda Gomez was given the nod ahead of Tano Azian in midfield.


St Andrews enjoyed the livelier start and a handling by Tarxien player inside the area, on a Friggieri cross, earned them a penalty just after nine minutes.

Captain Joseph Friggieri converted to put the Saints in front.

Tarxien, who made three changes in their starting line-up yesterday, including Antonio Chetcuti in goal, deputising for Christian Cassar, regrouped and midway through the half they drew level. Ricardo Faria picked Dieye's pass, went round Blagrove and slotted the ball between keeper Calleja Cremona and the post.

The Rainbows even took the lead themselves 11 minutes later, with Matar Dieye again the protagonist. He fell inside the area when pushed by Blagrove to win a penalty which he himself tucked away.

To make it worse for the Saints, their central defender Blagrove was also sent off for a second booking in this incident. By halftime Tarxien were looking comfortable.

But after the interval, Tarxien were finding it hard to capitalise on Blagroves' departure as they drove the game against a St Andrews team that tried to raise their levels, showing belief and togetherness.

There was always the danger the Saints might come up short in defence, but Tarxien's problems in front of goal resurfaced.

Faria should have put the game beyond St Andrews past the hour, when he advanced unhindered but his low shot was blocked by Calleja Cremona.

The Saints' keeper also thwarted Faria and Dieye with two blocks in quick succession on 70 minutes.

Two minutes later St Andrews pulled an unexpected equaliser as substitute Kemar Reid headed in Butler's cross beyond keeper Chetcuti's reach.

Hearteningly for coach Jose Borg, Tarxien refused to fold and it took them only five minutes to score the winner, thanks to a Ricardo Faria header after connecting to a high cross from the left.

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