The Malta Independent 22 January 2020, Wednesday

BOV Div. I: Six in a row for Lija; Stars leave their best for derby

Sunday, 20 October 2019, 21:10 Last update: about 3 months ago


Lija keep marching on with their sixth consecutive win, a perfect 100% start of the season. It was a hard fought win for the men of Joseph Galea, who played last half an hour with ten players after the sending off of Clifford Gauci.

Lija took the lead in the 15th minute. A cross from the right from Andrew White was knocked in from close range by Erjon Beu. Two minutes later, Giovanni Galea's 25-meter scorcher just missed target for Fgura. In the 21st minute, Fgura drew level. Dennis Cartella did well to beat his marker Leon Muscat on speed on the right flank, crossed to the Sergio Hili who had the easiest of tasks to score from close in. 


Just after the hour, Lija went ahead, again thanks to Beu, who pick up the ball after a Fgura defensive clearance and left Fgura goalkeeper Lydon Moore no chance with a powerful shot from just outside the box. Two minutes later, Lija were awarded a penalty after Muscat was fouled in the box but Kabelo Seakanyeng missed from the 11-meter spot. The same player however made up for this mistake in the 41st minute as he managed to score the 3-1 for Lija after a wonderful personal effort in the middle of the pitch, with an angled shot from just outside the box. 

Just after the hour, Fgura were awarded a penalty as well as Clifford Gauci handled the ball in his own area. The Lija midfielder was given his marching orders, but from the spot, Hili's attempt was saved by Luke Bonnici. From the rebound, Galea hit the crossbar. This was during a period that Fgura saw more of the ball, trying to get back into the match. However, even against ten players, Fgura found it hard to create chances. It was in fact Lija who was again close to a goal in the 85th minute, via a Beu header from a Seakanyeng cross which just missed target. In the 87th minute, Fgura finally managed to get one back with a Alejandro Toncheff goal from close-range after some good work by Galea. Fgura kept on pressing for an equaliser but did not find the net with Lija bagging another three points.

Lija Athletic: L.Bonnici, A.White, L.Muscat, C.Giordimaina, M.Clinch, C.Cassar (D.Scerri 64), C.Gauci, A.Galea (L.Pisani 83), K.Seakanyeng (G.Borg 93), E.Beu, M.Palomino

Fgura Utd: L.Moore, J.Cassar, J.R.Vella, C.Gandini (A.Toncheff 46), P.Chircop, S.Borg, T.Grech (A.Scicluna 46), S.Hili (A.Cilia-Mumford 82), C.Valero, D.Cartella, G.Galea

Referee: Andrea Sciriha 



The Cottonera derby between rivals Vittoriosa Stars and St George's brought, as expected, plenty of action. Specially during the first half, both teams played full on the attack, with Vittoriosa making the most out of their counter attacks, building up a 3-1 lead at half-time. The second half clearly belonged to St Georges, but in the end it was Vittoriosa Stars who played the smarter football and walked off the pitch with the three points, their first win of the season.

In the ninth minute, Brazilian striker Renan Farias was close to open the scoring for Vittoriosa in a swift counter-attack, with the goalkeeper beaten but centre-back Adolphus Marshall cleared the ball from the goal-line. Farias took the corner kick and scored direct without any player touching the ball, beating the surprised St George's goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi. Three minutes later, the Pioneers drew level. Josef Dalli crossed from the right wing towards Leeroy Bonett whose header had the best of Zach Valletta, the Vittoriosa goalkeeper. 

But in the 16th minute, Vittoriosa regained the lead with another Farias goal from close range, much to the delight of the Birgu clan. Nine minutes later, Liam Gauci put Vittoriosa 3-1 up after an indirect free-kick inside the box, given for a back pass which Azzopardi incorrectly handled. Just after the half hour mark, Christian Cassar hit the cross-bar for St George's with a shot from just outside the box. A few minutes before the break, Farias, undoubtedly the most dangerous player on the pitch, had to leave the pitch injured after a tough challenge by Azzopardi, the St George's goalkeeper.

Vittoriosa Stars fiercely defended their lead in the second half, with St George's doing most of the running. On 66 minutes, St George's  Japanese substitute Takumi Hiruma played his way through the Birgu defence but his hot was too weak to trouble Valletta. But one minute later, Murusaki Uritani crossed perfectly from the right towards Hiruma, who headed in St George's second goal from close range. The Blues now went all out in search for an equaliser, but on 74 minutes, Vittoriosa were awarded a penalty after a foul on Oscar Guerrero. Gianluca Sultana took the kick, his shot was blocked by Azzopardi but substitute Kenneth Abela, signed from Qrendi, was the fastest to knock in the 4-2 for Vittoriosa. For the remaining time left, the Pioneers worked hard to reduce the deficit but in the end were clearly running out of steam. It was Iro Curmi, another substitute, who put the result beyond doubt with a fine shot from just outside the box in another counter-attack, giving the team of coach Robert Cassar a memorable win over their rivals. 

Vittoriosa Stars: Z.Valletta, I.Abela, C.Spiteri, J.Briffa, K.Vella, D.Tabone, L.Gauci (K.Abela 46), L.Moad (I.Curmi 71), G.Sultana, O.Guerrero, S.Renan Farias (A.Ellul 42)

St George's: J.Azzopardi, L.Cutajar, A.Marshall, J.Grech (A.Hili 81), J.Dalli, G.D'Amato, M.Uritani (J.P.Formosa 87), C.Cassar, L.Bonett, S.Perdomo (T.Hiruma 61), D.Caruana

Referee: Daniel Portelli 

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