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Cheveresan’s late goal hands Floriana a perfect start

Gżira defender Steve Borg shields the ball from Flavio Cheveresan. Photo: Stephen Gatt

Floriana were off to an impressive start to their title defence when they edged past Gżira United at the National Stadium.

Buoyed by their Europa League triumph against Linfield, the Greens took the field without a number of first-team players as coach Enzo Potenza tinkered with his squad in a bid to field a fresh team against a potential title rival.

Still, these changes seemed to have little effect on Floriana who showed great personality throughout and managed to put on a resilient display which was rewarded with a late Flavio Cheveresan winner that punished a profligate Gżira side and provided the Greens with the best possible start to their title defence.

Floriana coach Enzo Potenza was forced to ring the changes given tha this team ame into the match just 72 hours from their Europa League triumph in Belfast against Linfield. Goalkeeper Andrea Cassar, Moustapha Beye, Flavio Cheveresan, Jan Busuttil and Daniel Agius were named in the starting formation while Diego Venancio, Brandon Paiber and Ryan Camenzuli were included among the substitutes.

Gżira, on their part, named their strongest formation, with new signing Steve Borg captaining the side.

The Maroons were off to a strong start and after five minutes Sacha Borg sped clear on the left and sent a dipping cross towards Jefferson who saw his downward header cleared off the line by Enzo Ruiz.

Floriana fought back and they stormed ahead with their first shot on target on 14 minutes and what a goal it was.

The Greens won a free-kick on the edge of the area and Enzo Ruiz stepped up to lash a fierce drive that flew into the top corner of the net.

Gżira hit back and on 22 minutes Jefferson again came close but he headed over from a good position.

But the Maroons were not to be denied and on 25 minutes they levelled matters. Martin Davis dispossessed Jurgen Pisani and sprinted towards the area before serving Amadou Samb who fired the ball past Andrea Cassar.

After this goal, Gżira started to see more off the ball with Floriana trying to hit their opponents with swift counter-attacks.

It was the Maroons who came close but twice Jackson Mendoza fired over.

Two minutes from the break, Floriana survived a scare when goalkeeper Cassar spilled Correa’s cross but Jefferson incredibly fired over in front of a gaping goal.

On the restart, Gżira started strongly and Steve Borg had a great chance to put the Maroons ahead when he found himself in ample space inside the area but stabbed wide from a Mendoza corner kick.

On 57 minutes it was the turn of Jefferson to head wide from close in after a Samb cross.

Floriana went close to restore their lead on 67 minutes when substitute Venancio picked Flavio Cheveresan but his diving header finished just wide.

Nine minutes from time, Haber had to dive full stretch to keep out Venancio’s curler.

But the Gżira could do nothing on 87 minutes when Cheveresan latched to Ryan Camenzuli’s cross to stab home the winner.

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