The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

Premier League: Ten-man Saints turn defeat into victory

Simon Farrugia Saturday, 21 November 2020, 07:03 Last update: about 13 days ago

A goal by Prates deep into stoppage time proved to be the dramatic winner for Santa Lucia against Lija Athletic in the first match played on Friday evening at the Centenary Stadium. The Saints were coming from a narrow defeat against Mosta which brought to an end a good run with wins over Floriana and Tarxien and a draw against Valletta. On the other hand, prior to this match Lija lost four consecutive games and in the process conceded fourteen goals.


Lija dominated the first forty five minutes with Santa Lucia responding well in the second half and though being two goals down and with a player less after Zerafa’s sending off , they won the match.

Lija took the lead as early as the 3rd minute through Erjon Beu who ended a good solo run with a diagonal shot which found the corner of the net.

Lija had a goal annulled for a handling infringement by Perez. But they doubled their lead on 27 minutes through a well executed free kick taken by Erjon Beu. Santa Lucia were dealt a heavy blow when Jamie Zerafa was sent off following a harsh tackle onVerano. Lija kept dictating matters and ten minutes from the end of the first half  Beu found Flores but his effort was saved by Farrugia.

Santa Lucia had only one chance to offer and this materialized in the 39th minute when Magri Overend found Da Silva but the Brazilian’s shot was blocked by Scerri.

The Saints started the second half brightly and on 48 minutes they reduced the deficit. A long ball from their rearguard found Kevin Ante Rosero who after rounding Muscat drilled the ball into the net. It was Santa Lucia’s moment now since on 50 minutes they nearly drew level when a low shot by Da Silva just missed the target.

Sixteen minutes from the end Santa Lucia scored the equaliser. Prestes was the supplier with a low cross inside the area and Timothy Tabone Desira had no difficulty in passing the ball from beneath Bonnici’s body and into the net. In the 77th minute Bonnici blocked on Da Silva to avoid further havoc.

When the match looked like ending in a draw Santa Lucia practically scored with the last kick of the match. A corner taken from the left side passed across the face of goal and with no one clearing the danger in came Prates Rodrigues who slotted the ball into the net for a dramatic winner.

Photo: Domenic Aquilina

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