STA LUCIA 3
Rosero 49, Tabone Desira 74
LIJA ATHLETIC 2
Beu 3, 27
C. Farrugia-5, T. Tabone Desira-6, A. Prates-6, K. Correia-6.5, A. Magri Overand-6 (70 A. Vella-), A. Da Silva Souza-4, K. Ante Rosero-7, V. Prestes-5.5, J. Zerafa, R. Tachikawa-5, K. Xuereb-4 (46 L. Wallace-6).
L. Bonniċi-5, C. Cassar-5, P. Gusso-5, L. Muscat-5, D. Scerri-5, E. Beu-6.5, H. Wood-6, M. Jimenez-5.5 (83 R. Darmanin), J. Cruz Gill-5.5, G. Virano-6, C. Flores-5 (60 C. Giordimaina-6).
Referee: Stefan Pace.
Yellow cards: Perez, Cruz Gill, Wood, Wallace.
Red card: Zerafa (SL) 31.
Andrè Prates struck an injury-time winner as ten-man Sta Lucia came back from behind to stun Lija Athletic in a topsy-turvy encounter at the Centenary Stadium.
The Saints players raced to mob the Brazilian defender after he applied the finishing touch to a well-rehearsed set-piece that secured all three points of the match.
Two goals behind and with a man down inside the opening half an hour, Sta Lucia looked bruised and battered but they coped much better with wind gusts to turn the table on their opponents in the second half.
Sta Lucia coach Oliver Spiteri was forced into a last-minute change as goalkeeper Andreas Vella pulled up during the warm-up. Hs void was filled by youngster Christopher Farrugia while Adam Magri Overand preferred to Junior Duarte.
By way of marking the international Anti-Bullying Week, both sets of players took the field wearing T-shirts with the message “United against Bullying”.
Just two minutes were on the clock when Erjon Beu scored with a snap-shot from the edge of the area.
It was a terrible start for Sta Lucia who looked rusty in their first game in three weeks and were also forced to contend with the added disadvantage of playing against the wind.
They were grateful to see a Miguel Perez ‘goal’ ruled out for handball three minutes later.
But worse was to follow for the Saints on 27 minutes when Beu’s superb free-kick doubled Lija’s advantage.
Sta Lucia’s defence was again nowhere to be seen minutes later as Beu’s clever pass sent Carlos Flores clear but the Mexican striker came face to face with the ‘keeper who somehow managed to block.
Sta Lucia’s frustrations were illustrated by the sending off after 31 minutes of Jamie Zerafa for a late lunge on Gonzalo Virano.
Yet Sta Lucia were a different proposition after the interval as it was Spiteri’s side who had the wind at their backs in the second half.
Dragging his side forward, Kevin Ante Rosero was on hand to control a bouncing ball, pirouette past Leon Muscat before beating Luke Bonniċi within three minutes after restart.
Sta Lucia’s momentum, which have been gathering in the seond of the second half continued to pick up speed. And it finally bore fruit on 74 minutes when Timothy Tabone Desira bent a shot behind Bonniċi after good work from Victor Prestes.
And in a frantic finale, the ball was played short to Kevin Correia whose cross was met by Rosero. The ball flew dangerously across the face of goal with Prates applying the final touch to hit the ball home and wrap up a dramatic victory.