GŻIRA UNITED 4
Maxuell 3; Correa 36
Jefferson 38; Davis 64pen
SENGLEA ATHLETIC 0
Gżira United: J.Haber-6, G. Bohrer-6 (77 K. Pulo), S. Borg-6, N. Muscat-6.5, M.Davis-6.5, N. Portelli-6 (62 O. Elouni), M. Maia-7 (77 A. Cohen), J. Mendoza-6 (69 C. Borg), R. Correa-7, S. Borg-6, Jefferson-6 (62 D. Xuereb).
Senglea Athletic: M. Farrugia-4 (77 A. Azzopardi), S. Uyi-5, Z. Cassar-5, A. Abela-5, I. Misan-5 (70 D. Xuereb), L. Riascos-5 (70 D. Fava), D. Abela-4 (55 F. Aboulezz), A. Scicluna-5, J. Dibola-5, D. Kukic-4 (46 J. Tanti-4), Wilkerson-4.
Referee: Daniel Portelli.
Yellow cards: Riascos, Cassar.
BOV player of the match: Maia Maxuell (Gżira United).
Three goals in the first half propelled Gżira United to an easy victory over bottom team Senglea Athletic in yesterday’s opening game at the Centenary Stadium.
The comprehensive 4-0 victory was a legitimate reward for the Maroons’ sprightly football showing.
The scoreline clearly indicates the gulf in class that exists between the two sides as Gżira laid bare Senglea’s fragile confidence and not even the introduction of newcomer Sergio Uyi in defence could help to steady the ship.
Gżira newcomer Maxuell Maia was unquestionably a constant source of worry for the otherwise pedestrian Senglea rearguard, not the least for scoring the opening goal and providing the assist to Jefferson de Assis for the third one.
Initially deployed in the middle in a three-pronged attack with Jefferson and Jamaican striker Martin Davis, he took little time to win the hearts of the Maroons.
In fact, the Brazilian forward needed just two minutes to score his first goal for Gżira when he capitalised on Alan Abela’s hesitancy to head the ball over Matthew Farrugia from Ricardo Correa’s corner.
Correa’s diagonal drive rolled just wide, shy the quarter of the hour mark as Gżira seized control after their opener.
Senglea adopted cautious strategy with Wilkerson Gomes, Igor Misan and Luis Riascos crowding the central midfield.
For all their fighting spirit, Senglea failed to test Justin Haber in the opening half as Clive Mizzi’s men were unable to get any men forward in support of Junior Dibola.
Upfront, Gżira possessed too much flair and firepower for the Southseasiders. Senglea’s predicament deepened on 36 minutes when Correa unleashed a low drive into the low corner.
A minute later, Gżira made it 3-0. Maxuell set off on a typical infield run inside the right channel before squaring the ball for Jefferson who managed to squeeze the ball into the net.
Senglea tried to raise their game in the second half but their efforts did not trouble Gżira.
On 56 minutes, Gżira opened up again the Senglea defence with a fine move. Nikolai Muscat picked out Davis but the Jamaican’s shot was blocked by Uyi on the goalline.
On 64 minutes, Maxuell was caught from behind by Riascos inside the area following a long throw-in by substitute Dexter Xuereb. From the resulting spot-kick, Davis sent Farrugia the wrong way.
As the game drifted into its final 20 minutes, Gżira carved three other scoring opportunities as Senglea lost their last guardian Matthew Farrugia to injury.
Davis was clean through but the Senglea defence somehow warded off his attempt.
Substitute goalkeeper Andrew Zammit then blocked an Omar Elouni from close range and Andrew Cohen dragged his effort wide off the far post.