The Malta Independent 19 March 2019, Tuesday

BOV Premier League: Sliema beat 10-man Tarxien and are back in contention for third place

Henry Brincat Friday, 15 February 2019, 22:17 Last update: about 1 month ago
Photo: Domenic Aquilina
Photo: Domenic Aquilina

Tarxien R.           1
Sliema W.           2

Tarxien: D. Bugeja, JA Wemmer, JC Gill, M. Spiteri, N. Paolucci (D. Falzon 61), G. Aquilina, L. Grech (D. Zerafa 89), S. Arab (J. De Paixao 54), D. Mambouane, R. Faria, A. Nilsson

Sliema W.: J. Galea, K. Shaw, M. Scerri, I. Varela, R. Fenech, N. Ashong, F. Temile (J. Mintoff 86), M. Sansone, C. Pani, S. Biancardi, Y. Marzouk

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Referee: I. Barbara

Asst refs: E. Spiteri, T. Zammit

4th official: A. Sciriha

Scorers: C. Pani 30, M. Scerri 53, A. Nilsson 80

Yellow cards: C. Pani 10, F. Temile 20, S. Biancardi 78

Red cards: M. Spiteri

BoV Player of the match: C. Pani

TMI Top 3: 1. C. Pani, 2. F. Temile, 3. R. Faria

Attendance: 127

Sliema Wanderers returned to winning form after four matches as they beat Tarxien Rainbows 2-1 yesterday evening.

Goals from Claudio Pani in the first half and Mark Scerri in the second half scored the goals to give new coach Stefano Maccoppi a winning start. A late goal by Alexander Nilsson brought Tarxien back into contention, but it proved to be not enough for the Rainbows to save a point.

This victory came after a defeat against Valletta and three consecutive draws. It lifted them to 5th place on 31 points, just three below third placed Gzira, though the Blues' placing might change again after the other weekend matches.

Tarxien remain in 8th place on 19 points.

This was Sliema's first match under the charge of Italian coach Stefano Maccoppi who was appointed by the Sliema administration after they had dismissed former coach John Buttigieg.

One surprise in his first selection was the omission of hard working midfielder Matias Muchardi who watched the game from the substitutes' bench. Also missing from the starting line-up was John Mintoff, but the latter came on as a substitute late in the second half.

Sliema enjoyed the major share of the first half exchanges and they merited their slender lead.

They seemed to be a more motivated team than the Rainbows as they enjoyed more possession and created more scoring chances than their opponents.

Tarxien, however, also had their own moments, especially early in the game, when they missed two good chances for which they paid dearly.

In the second half, Tarxien tried to make a comeback, but their hopes were quickly dashed to the ground as Sliema scored a second goal after a few minutes.

From then on, Sliema contained their opponents with relative ease although Tarxien were back in contention 10 minutes from the end after scoring a consolation goal.

The Wanderers took the initiative right from the start, but it was Tarxien who went close to opening the score on 4 minutes when Paolucci entered the Sliema area only to lift his shot well over the bar.

Three minutes later, it was Faria who had an angled shot just missing the target.

On 19 minutes, Sliema also had a good chance when Varela headed a Temile cross goalwards, but goalie Bugeja saved confidently.

On 23 minutes, a long lob towards the Sliema goal had Bugeja in difficulty. He punched the ball out towards Temile who, however, shot well over the bar from a central position.

Sliema took the lead on the 30th minute with a splendid goal. From a cross from the right, it was Claudio Pani who ran in to first time home past a helpless Bugeja.

The first half ended with Sliema enjoying their slender lead.

In the 52nd minute, Sliema went close with a fine Marzouk effort that sailed just over the bar. Sliema were not to be denied and a minute later, they added a second goal. Varela's fine shot beat Bugeja but the ball hit the crossbar and rebounded out. However, Mark Scerri was unmarked to hit home the rebound.

Tarxien replied through a Wemmer shot on 62 minutes, but it was  blocked to corner.

Tarxien appealed for a penalty on 70 minutes when Faria ended on the turf after a tackle by a Sliema defender, but the official, close to the action, waved play on.

The Rainbows reduced the arrears on the 80th minute when from a cross by Wemmer, it was Alexander Nilsson who headed past Galea into the net.

The Rainbows ended in 10 men when Matthew Spiteri received a second yellow card and was therefore dismissed.

On 86 minutes, goalie Bugeja kept Tarxien's hopes alive with a splendid save to corner off a Nil Ashong humdinger. And soon after, Marzouk missed a glaring opportunity when he hesitated when unmarked and his shot was eventually blocked by a Tarxien defender.

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