LIJA ATHLETIC 4
Beu 35, 37, 56
SENGLEA ATHLETIC 0
Erjon Beu’s superb hat-trick spearheaded Lija Athletic to a stunning 4-0 win over Senglea Athletic, despite playing with a man down for the majority of the game.
Young defender Carl Cassar was given the marching orders on the brink of the 20th minute mark and it seemed that Lija were heading for a difficult evening.
However, the newly-promoted side, led by coach Joseph Galea, stood up to the challenge thanks largely to their clinical forward Beu, who scored a hat-trick to make it 124 goals in 182 games for the Red and Whites.
Under the guidance of recently appointed coach Ryan Newell, Senglea opened the game on a bright note with a couple of goalscoring opportunities but as the game wore on, their offensive spark started to dim and the team looked disjointed.
The first chance of the opening half fell on the feet of Kevaughn Atkinson who fired a volley from the edge of the area but sailed over.
Lija replied on the 11th minute through Valdo Alinho but his effort went in vain as both teams opted for a more cautious approach in their opening league game.
Atkinson was once again a threat for Lija when he let fly a low drive but Luke Bonnici was on hand to clear the danger.
The former St Andrews forward was proving to be a key man for the Cottonera-based side with his pace, and in fact on the 18th minute he was brought down on the edge of the area, resulting in a sending off for Lija Athletic even though the match official gave the marching orders to the wrong player in Carl Cassar.
Nonetheless, it was Lija who were dominating proceedings now, coming close to forge ahead with Gonzalo Virano but the former Senglea midfielder sent his curling effort wide.
In fact, it was Lija who drew first blood and it was none other than their stalwart Beu whose freekick execution stunned Senglea’s goalkeeper to put his side one up.
Moments later, Fernando Brandan switched play onto Beu with a swift throughball as the Albanian slotted the ball past Matthew Farrugia to make it 2-0.
After the break, Senglea tried to stage a reaction with Atkinson directing a header on goal but was denied by Bonnic.
Lija’s Brandan attempted a spectacular volley to surprise the Senglea shot-stopper but missed the target.
However, Lija still managed to find a third through a spectacular solo effort from Miguel Jimenez whose low drive went past Farrugia.
Five minutes later, Beu sealed his hat trick when he latched onto another Bandan’s delivery and nailed the ball past Farrugia.
Senglea came close to pull one back through Alan Abela but his header was stopped by Bonnici. Atkinson followed with a close-range shot but failed to score to cap a miserable debut for Senglea.