The Malta Independent 20 January 2020, Monday

Maldini errors cost Spartans dearly, Floriana fall further off the pace, Valletta beat Gzira

Sunday, 16 October 2016, 07:36 Last update: about 4 years ago




Hamrun S: D. Cassar (M. Farrugia), P. Chircop. C. Maldini, H. Garba, L. Vergara, S. Nanapere, M. Giusti (R. Refalo), L. Motta (D. Falzon), J. Grech, J. Mesqueu Neto, L. Grech


Sliema W: G. Zammit, A. Muscat, G. Muir, R. Vilas Boas, S. Wisdom (G. Aquilina), M. Muchardi, P. Xuereb, J. Mintoff (B. Muscat), M. Scerri (R. Spiteri), J.P. Farrugia, D. Dos Santos

Referee: C. Pisani

Asst.refs: M. Scerri, C. Azzopardi

4th official: M. Apap

Scorers: A. Muscat 32 pen, J.P. Farrugia 54, C. Maldini 80 og

Yellow cards: P. Xuereb, J. Neto, J. Mintoff, L. Vergara

Player of the match: M. Muchardi (Sliema W)

TMI top 3: 1.  A. Muscat  2. M. Muchardi  3. J. Neto


Hamrun’s volatile start to the season was supressed by Sliema Wanderers, who played with better determination and more aggression yesterday, going on to win the match 3-0.

This was Sliema’s third victory on the trot that lifted them further up the standings to confirm their present bright patch.

Of more serious concern was the overall disconnect inherent in the Spartans’ performance and especially their defender Christian Maldini, returning to the side, who was involved in all three of Sliema’s goals.

He procured a penalty in the first half, was outplayed by Jean Paul Farrugia in the second and then committed an own goal.

In the absence of the suspended Potezica, Alex Muscat played as central defender and Denni Dos Santos made a start fror Sliema.

On their part Hamrun gave a debut start to Luis Vergara in defence, playing alongside Maldini as the two centre backs.  In the absence of the suspended Rafael, Luke Grech played as left back.

Sliema made the more assertive start and pinned Hamrun inside their own half. However they failed to overwork the Hamrun keeper as they were found wanting in the final third, with Wisdom and Denni missing the decisive pass.

After seven minutes, Scerri forced the Hamrun keeper Cassar to stretch himself and hold out his fierce grounder. Muchardi’s cross shot on the loose ball was cleared into safety.

Another tame header by Denni went wide  and midway through the half keeper Cassar was forced to leave the pitch with a groin injury.

On 32 minutes the Sliema were awarded a penalty, on the assistant refreee’s inistance, as Maldini pulled down Muchardi inside the area. Captain Alex Muscat beat reserve keeper Matthew Farrugia from the spot to give the Wanderers a first half lead.    

Hamrun showed more urgency after the restart and Nanapere had two good chances, first with a rising shot that missed the target and then with a firm header well saved by keeper Zammit.

But it was Sliema who increased their lead on 54 minutes. Jean Paul Farrugia was allowed too much space as he chased a long ball down the right flank. He went past Maldini with some neat footwork and beat keeper Farrugia with a low curling shot at the far post.

Hard as they tried to pull themselves back into the match, Hamrun remained shabby and poor, lacking bite or purpose.

Their misery was complete ten minutes from time when Denni’s free kick rebounded off the bar and Christian Maldini deflected the ball into his own goal.

When late in the match, keeper Zammit saved well on substitute Darren Falzon’s shot, it clearly showed that it was not Hamrun’s day.


FLORIANA  –                  0

HIBERNIANS -               0

Floriana: J. Haber, A. Scicluna, A. Monticelli, E. Pepe, C. Borg (S. Pisani), M. Vella, J. Pisani, A. Cini, A. Samb, R. Camenzuli (M. Fontanella), N. Chiesa

Hibernians: A. Hogg, R. Soares (J. Pearson), M. Dias, J. Lima, B. Kristensen, Jorginho, R. Telles, J. Degabriele, J. Mbong, J. Varea (D. Vella), A. Agius

Referee: G. Tonna

Asst.refs: R. Vella, P. Apap

4th official: F. Zammit

Yellow cards: J. Lima, J. Pisani, B. Kristensen, A. Scicluna, N. Chiesa, A. Samb. A. Cini

Player of the match: J. Lima (Hibernians)

TMI top 3: 1. J. Lima  2. A. Samb  3. R.Telles

Attendance: 1061



Floriana’s woeful run of form continued as they played a goalless draw against Hibernians, thus extending their winless run.

Floriana were solid rather than inventive, although in flashes they showed some spirit and willingness to win.

Hibernains might have played slighly the better, more coherent football, but suffered from a lack of concentrated cutting edge.

In fact quality was in short supply for most of the 90 minutes but the looseness of the game meant both sides got chances.

Floriana made a complete reshuffle from the side that lost to Sliema Wanderers before the international break. They dropped Steve Pisani, Ignacio Varela, Mario Fontanella and the suspended Enrico Ruiz and replaced them with Andre Scicluna, Clyde Borg, Amadou Samb and Ryan Camenzuli.

Hibernians had Clayton Failla and Johann Bezzina missing as Juan Manuel Varea and Jorginho started instead.

In an evenly balanced first half, neither side managed to take the upperhand. Both sides were unable to take advantage from deadball situations with Andre Scicluna for Floriana and Bjorn Kristensen for Hibernians heading well over the bar.

Hibernians’ keeper Hogg was the busier keeper though. Midway through the half, he palmed out a Chiesa effort from the right and on the half hour Hogg again repelled Samb’s shot.

Floriana put in Mario Fontanella for Camenzuli at halftime to give them more attacking options.

But when Jorginho played a freekick in the path of Telles and he advanced inside the area, Degabriele’s final touch was ruled offside and the goal was rightly disallowed.

On the other end, keeper Hogg stretched himself again to hold out Samb’s firm header.

The match became lively as Hibernians’ counter had Telles exchange the ball with Jorgingho, run for the return pass and shoot slightly over.

The rhythm was again pedestrian soon after that as both sides were exhibiting a wastefulness in the final third.

As Soares limped off to be replaqced by Jonathan Pearson, Steve Pisani went in for Floriana. He immediately fluffed a good chance on 68 minutes, missing the target when in front of goal, off a Scicluna cross.

The Paolites’ attacks were more sporadic but Floriana did not make any inroads either and the stalemate prevailed till the end.

Photos Michael Camilleri

Gzira U.         1

Valletta          3


Gzira U.: J. Azzopardi, C. Gatt Baldacchino (R. Ledesma), G. Conti, A. Machedo Neto, JC Corbolan, J. Bondin (K. Pulo), M. Avila Perez, J. Borg, Z. Scerri, S. Diamoutene, Y. Tonna (R. De Pinho de Souza).

Valletta: H. Bonello, J. Caruana, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, S. Malano (L. Cremona), V. Goncalves Alhinho, F. Falcone, C. Pani, U. Ucenna Calistus, L. Aguirre, J. Benites (J. Borg).

Referee: K. Kennedy (N. Ireland)

Asst refs: N. Gillespie, J. Wilson.

4th official: N. Robinson.

Scorers: J. Benites, F. Falcone pen, A. Macheda Neto, J. Borg.

Yellow cards: V. Goncalves Alhinho, J. Caruana, R. Camilleri, A. Macheda Neto, K. Pulo.

Red cards: H. Bonello

 Of the match: J. Benites

TMI Top 3: 1. J. Benites, 2. F. Falcone, M. Avila Peres

Attendance: 765


Henry Brincat


Valletta were back to winning form yesterday as they beat Gzira United by the odd goal in three to move second in the standings ahead of today’s top clash between Balzan and Birkirkara.

Goals from Benites and Falcone (from a penalty) gave them a healthy cushion, but Gzira fought back gamely in the second half during which they managed to get back into the game soon after missing a penalty, scoring a goal through Machedo Neto.

Yesterday’s performance in the first half must rank among the best of Paul Zammit’s side this season but in the second, City left much to be desired as they allowed Gzira back in the match, risking an equaliser before they eventually sealed the issue with a third goal in added time.

Valletta now have 14 points from eight matches, five behind leaders Balzan. Gzira are now in eighth place after Sliema defeated Hamrun in an earlier match.

Valletta dominated the first half - an almost one-way traffic affair. It was evident that the citizens were all out for a win having missed out on that in their last four encounters.

And after taking the lead early, they never looked back and penned Gzira in their own half for long stretches.

Only in the final moments of the half one saw Gzira having a pot at goal, but that was certainly not enough to trouble Valletta.

In the second half, the Maroons launched several attacks as they took over the midfield sector, but Valletta were also somewhat dangerous in their fewer counter attacks through Falcone and Benites.

Gzira came back into the game after Bonello was sent off in the 82nd minute. Though missing a penalty, they scored a goal soon after, but they failed to get an equaliser despite finishing the match in numerical superiority. In fact, Valletta went on to score a third goal to ascertain themselves of the three points.

Valletta took the initiative right from the start but Falcone’s low effort in the second minute was well saved by to clear and the ball went to Jhonnattann Benites who beat goalie Azzopardi with a neat shot to the left.

Two minutes later, it was Claudio Pani who tested Azzopardi seriously, but the goalie managed to palm the ball away. goalie Azzopardi.

It was no surprise that they took the lead on the seventh minute. From a good Falcone pass, the Gzira defence failed

In the 22nd minute, from a Malano cross, Falcone headed the ball down in the path of Benites, but the latter hit high from an ideal position.

Valletta insisted on attack and in the 24th minute, they were awarded a penalty when Falcone was floored by Diamoutene in the area. From the spotkick, Falcone made no mistake sending the goalie the wrong way.

In the 38th minute, it was Azzopardi who denied Valletta a third goal when following a fine run down the left flank by Benites, his cross was first timed by Falcone but Azzopardi somehow managed to save.

In the 42nd minute, Gzira finally tested Bonello through Conti, but the City goalie punched the ball away.

Immediately afterwards, at the other end, Falcone scored with a header off a Calistus cross but the Irish official had whistled for an infringement.

Just before the interval whistle, Benites even went round goalie Azzopardi in the area, but his effort from the angle hit the side rigging.

At the start of the second half, Gzira protested for a penalty when Juan Carlos Corbolan fell in the area, but the official, close to the action, ignored their protests.

In the 57th minute, Yanis Tonna tested Bonello with a good shot from 20 metres.

The Maroons went closest to scoring on 61 minutes. From a Tonna cornerkick, it was Avila Perez who saw his first timer hitting the crossbar and ending over.

On the 77th minute, Bonello was a protagonist twice. First he turned to corner in style a Ledesma freekick and seconds later, he received a direct red card, when following a corner, the Irish official noticed something untoward near the City goalline where Zachary Scerri finished on the ground. The end result was a red card for Bonello. Maverick Buhagiar took Bonello’s place in goal and quickly became a great protagonist as he saved Avila Perez’s penalty kick. But from the corner, it was Macheda Neto who headed into the net following a cross from the right.

However, it was not over as Valletta, despite playing with a man less, still managed to score a third goal through substitute Jean Borg to seal their victory.


Tarxien Rainbows and Mosta took a point apiece yesterday in a direct relegation clash at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.

Priso Doding shot Mosta ahead in the first half, but substitute Alex Nilsson obtained a deserved equaliser for Mosta in the second period.

The draw keeps both sides near the bottom end of the standings with Tarxien moving on to the 9 point mark and Mosta on to the 7 point mark.

It was a fair result as neither team dominated each other in a match in which both goalkeepers had a somewhat quiet afternoon.

The first half was boring with actions few and far between.

Tarxien dictated play at the start and seemed to have an edge especially in midfield, but after Mosta took the lead, it was Ivan Zammit’s side which created the few chances which were noted in the first half.

The Rainbows tried to retaliate, but Mosta’s defence was well organised and goalie Bartolo was never tested seriously.

In the second half, play improved a little, but both goalies were rarely tested.

Both teams were strong at the back with both defences showing themselves superior to their respective front lines on most occasions.

Mosta threatened first on the 4th minute when Kemar David Reid went through on the left, but his angled shot passed across goal.

Tarxien’s reply arrived in the 10th minute. From a Frances cross, Zerafa headed forward, but Baker’s effort went well over the bar.

Soon after, Ponce followed a long clearance from the defence, entered the area and unleashed a hard shot which goalie Bartolo turned to corner with difficulty.

Mosta took the lead in the 30th minute against the run of play when in a counter attack, it was Reid who set Priso Doding who advanced into the Tarxien area to hit past the onrushing goalie Philip Schranz with the ball going in via the upright.

Tarxien retaliated and in the 35th minute, it was Sacha Borg who attempted a long distance shot which, however, went wide.

Tarxien started the second half on attack in search of an equaliser, but it was Mosta who went close on the 53rd minute when Priso set Reid who advanced into the area, only to shoot wide.

The Rainbows scored a merited equaliser in the 58th minute.

Marcelina passed the ball forward to substitute Alex Nilsson who stopped the ball on the edge of the area and hit home a fine overhead kick which completely beat goalie Bartolo.

On the hour, Mosta again went close, this time through a Reid freekick which just missed the target.

In another Tarxien attack, Nilsson set Triston Caruana in the area, but his effort went high over the bar.

Tarxien remained the better team but rarely proved to be dangerous up front, although in the 79th minute, substitute Murga had a shot from 20 metres going wide.

In added time, Tarxien again threatened to score the winner. From a Triston Caruana freekick, Sacha Borg saw his header going just over the bar.


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