ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 2
GŻIRA UNITED 2
J. Debono-6, M. Guillaumier-6.5, J. Mbong-6, J. Soares Ailton-6.5 (86 I. Iriberri), I. Adeshina-6, E. Serrano Valero-6.5, J. Corbalan-6.5, P. Djordjevic-7, K. Micallef-6, M. Barbosa (10 F. Sasere-7), E. Marcelina-7.
A. Curmi-6, G. Bohrer-6, Steve Borg-6.5, N. Muscat-6, C. Escobar-6, N. Portelli-5 (65 A. Cohen), H. Kone-5, R. Correa-6.5, Sascha Borg-6, Jefferson-5, R. Kooh Sohna-6.5.
Referee Matthew Degabriele.
Yellow cards Jefferson, Djordjevic, Serrano Valero, Marcelina, Bohrer, Kooh Sohna.
BOV Player of the match Matthew Guillaumier (Ħamrun Spartans).
Ħamrun Spartans and Gżira United gave life to an entertaining encounter as they shared four goals at the Hibs Stadium.
The two teams showed their best form in the first 45 minutes which saw Gżira United pounced on poor defensive play from Ħamrun to twice go in front. But the Spartans showed remarkable character to claw themselves back into the match and head into the interval on parity.
On the restart, the match failed to keep up that momentum and it was the Spartans who seemed to hold the edge over a Gżira side who as the minutes passed struggled from a physical point of view.
The Reds did create a few good scoring opportunities but failed to hit the target and both teams had to settle for a point.
The final stalemate leaves the Spartans and Gżira United tied in second place on the 14-point mark, two adrift of leaders Hibernians, who beat Żejtun Corinthians on Friday.
Ħamrun coach Mark Buttigieg welcomed back from the start Jorge Ailton Soares after the Cape Verde forward missed his team defeat against Birkirkara and was only a late sub against Balzan.
On the other hand, Darren Abdilla was without several players as Jackson Mendoza and Omar Elouni were suspended while Dexter Xuereb, Martin Davis, Zach Scerri and Clyde Borg were ruled out by injury.
Ħamrun started brightly and after a minute of play Jorge Ailton Soares fed Joseph Mbong and the Malta international saw his curling drive finish just over.
Gżira responded three minutes later when a Ricardo Correa’s shot was deflected to a corner.
The Uruguayan midfielder made his mark on nine minutes when he put Gżira ahead.
Raphael Kooh-Sohna sent a fine throughball towards Correa who beat Jonathan Debono with a low drive.
More woes followed for the white-shirted Spartans as a minute later coach Mark Buttigieg was forced to replace the injured Marcelo Barbosa with Franklin Sasere.
Ħamrun looked to be struggling and on 22 minutes Correa almost struck again when he saw his firm volley somehow kept out by the Ħamrun goalkeeper.
When it looked as though that the Maroons were in control, the Spartans came out of nowhere to level matters.
Ailton Soares sent a dipping cross into the path of Sasere who stabbed the ball past goalkeeper Anthony Curmi.
But Gżira took just four minutes to restore their lead.
The Maroons won a free-kick some 30 metres out. Hamed Kone chipped the ball inside the area and in came Kooh-Sohna who flicked the ball past Debono.
More drama was in store as four minutes from the break, the Spartans managed to restore parity again.
Ailton Soares sped past Nevin Portelli and Nikolai Muscat before cutting the ball back into the path of Predrag Djordjevic who blasted the ball into the net.
Two minutes into the second half the Spartans should have scored.
Juan Corbalan raced through and slid the ball towards Ailton Soares who fired wide with only Curmi to beat.
From then on, the match fell into a lull as although the Spartans were holding the edge in terms of possession, scoring chances remained few and far between with neither goalkeeper being tested.
Twenty minutes from time, Djordjevic latched on a poor clearance by Bohrer but the Serbian saw his shot deviated just wide.
On 75 minutes, the Spartans should have been awarded a penalty when Kooh-Sohna touched his ball with his arm inside the area but the referee Matthew Degabriele waved away their protests.
In the 90th minute the Spartans could have won it when Sasere latched onto Djordjevic’s lay-up but his effort finished just wide.