LIJA ATHLETIC 0
GŻIRA UNITED 3
Samb 62; Correa 82
Gżira United maintained their winning momentum when they brushed aside Lija Athletic in a one-sided encounter at the Centenary Stadium.
There was never any doubt on who would leave Ta’ Qali with all three points in the bag as the Maroons were in control right from the outset. In fact, once, Nikolai Muscat put them ahead after only seven minutes there was no way back for Joseph Galea’s team.
In fact, Gżira remained in control with Lija Athletic never showing any form of threat to the Gżira defence and in the end the Maroons strolled to a third successive victory that kept them firmly in touch with the Premier League front-runners
As expected it was Gżira United who made all the early and after seven minutes of play they already had the ball into the Lija Athletic net when McAllister Clinch inadvertently deviated the ball into his own goal but the referee Daniel Portelli annulled the ‘goal’ as there was a Maroon player in an offside position.
However, that turned out to be a temporary reprieve as in their next attack Gżira took the lead.
Hamed Kone burst clear on the left and sent a low cross towards the sprinting Nikolai Muscat who hit a firm low drive that rolled into the back of the net.
After that early breakthrough one expected Gżira to press on the accelerator to find a second goal but instead the match fell into a lull with scoring chances few and far between.
In fact, we had to wait until ten minutes from time for the next scoring opportunity which almost yielded an equalizer for Lija Athletic.
The newly-promoted side were awarded a free-kick and Valdo Alhinho’s delivery flew across the face of the Gżira goal but found no takers as the Maroons defenders cleared for a corner.
Eight minutes from the break, it was Gżira who should have doubled their lead when Ricardo Correa picked Amadou Samb who incredibly fired wide in front of an open goal.
The Senegalese striker had another opportunity on 44 minutes when this time he latched to Kone’s cross but his header was easily saved by Luke Bonnici, the Lija goalkeeper.
Ten minutes into the second half, Correa though he had doubled Gżira’s lead when he connected to Steve Borg’s pass and headed past Bonnici, but the assistant referee flagged for offside and the ‘goal’ was again ruled out.
On 58 minutes Gabriel Mentz charged forward and unleashed a powerful drive that was pushed away by Bonnici.
The Maroons did manage to all but wrap up the points on 62 minutes when Sacha Borg’s inswinger was met by Samb who nodded the goal into the far corner.
On 68 minutes, Gżira United were awarded a penalty when Samb backheeled the ball into the path of Muscat who was upended by Cruz Gill. However, from the spot Jefferson blasted the ball over the bar.
The Maroons did manage to add a third goal on 82 minutes when Mendoza squared the ball towards Samb who saw his shot hitting the upright and Correa was on hand to score from the rebound.