GŻIRA UNITED 2
ŻEJTUN CORINTHIANS 1
A late Jefferson goal earned Gżira United three valuable points to claim the top spot of the Premier League, for at least 24 hours.
The Maroons fought more than expected to see off a Żejtun Corinthians side that proved they won’t be any pushovers despite being one of the newcomers in the top-flight.
In an end-to-end game which saw two Gżira players sent off, the Maroons’ quality made the difference, in particular when they started to push Żejtun back in their own half in the second 45 minutes.
A close-range header from Gabriel Bohrez and a Jackson Mendoza freekick showed Gżira’s intentions of getting an early lead in this tie.
However, Żejtun had no plans of playing second fiddle to the Maroons and Orosco Anonam’s side started to claw inch by inch on the field, tussling for every ball while staying compact.
Żejtun’s shape started to prove a tough nut to crack for Gżira while enabling the newly-promoted side to exploit the vacuum left behind through their counter-attacks.
Kemar Reid missed Żejtun’s first chance of the game when his towering header sailed over the bar.
The former St Andrews forward, however, was not be denied a moments later when creative midfielder Fernando Gomes sped into the box before dropping a delightful ball onto the head of Reid who had the simplest of tasks to net in from point-blank range.
The goal came as a cold shower for Gżira whose reaction did not pay dividends before half-time.
In fact, a couple of long-range efforts from Hamed Kone proved to be the Maroons only opportunities for an equaliser as they trailed by a goal at half-time.
A Mendoza free-kick forced Żejtun goalkeeper Christian Cassar to produce an outstanding save as Gżira came out all guns blazing in the second half.
Cassar was drawn into action again, this time to divert an Amadou Samb effort into corner.
Yet, Samb managed to level terms when he capitalised from the resultant set-piece.
Gżira’s Nikolai Muscat went close to turn the score around but his free-kick was just few inches away from Cassar’s goal.
At the other end , Żejtun nearly plundered a goal through Lucas Moreira’s whose header struck the crossbar.
In the closing stages of the game, Gżira’s chances of winning the game suffered a blow when Mendoza was given the marching orders after hitting a Żejtun player.
Nonetheless, the Maroons still managed to find the decisive goal when Jefferson pulled a rabbit from the hat with an outstanding curling effort two minutes from time.
Omar Elouni’s sending off in the dying minutes gave more spice to a thrilling finale to a game which Gżira, with nine men, managed to claim.