ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 3
Soares 45; Sasere 52, 73
E. Bartolo-6; D. Gojkovic-6.5; M.Guillaumier-6.5; J. Mbong-7 (75 S. Lagzir); J. Ailton Soares-7.5 (88 D. Borg); F. Sasere-7.5 (86 I. Adeshina); E. Serrano; J. Corbalan-6; P. Djordjevic-6.5; K. Micallef-6.5; E. Marcelina-7.
C. Mafoumbi-6.5; D. Debono-5 (68 L. Portelli); C. Ememe-5.5; J. Bezzina-5; C. Failla-6,5; T. Farrugia-6 (83 N. Agius); M. Muchardi; Rafael-6; Z. Brincat-6 (68 D. Bonnici); B. Kaljevic-7 (72 T. Yokochi); K. Tulimieri-5 (46 G. Sciberras-5).
Referee Matthew De Gabriele.
Yellow cards Bartolo, Micallef, Muchardi.
Red card Serrano Valero (Ħ) 36, Muchardi (M) 66.
BOV Player of the Match Jorge Soares (Ħamrun Spartans).
Ħamrun Spartans responded in the perfect manner to Hibernians’ victory yesterday as they fended off Mosta 3-1 to regain top spot in the BOV Premier League.
It was a convincing performance by the Spartans, who despite having defender Elkin Serrano harshly dismissed midway through the first half, whose collective and offensive football has earned them their ninth win of the season.
The Spartans now lead with 31 points, putting some daylight between them and Mosta who remain on fourth with 26 points.
Ħamrun Spartans dictated proceedings throughout the first 45 minutes but chances were rare, in particular in the opening stages of the game,.
Mosta’s organisation and resilience, which so far has earned the Blues a spectacular start to the season, made life difficult for the Spartans in the offensive third.
Despite their possession, the Spartans failed to make their pressure count and instead they were stunned by the in-form Mosta who managed to break the deadlock.
Clayton Failla whipped in a deep cross into the box on which Christ Ememe connected as he spotted Bojan Kaljevic inside the box and the Montenegrin striker slotted the ball into the net for his 12th goal in 14 games.
To add insult to injury, Ħamrun were down to 10 men in a controversial manner after Elkin Valero Serrano and Kevin Tulimieri were not complimentary with each other in a 50-50 duel. At first glance, Tulimieri’s tackle looked more dangerous, however, it was the Ħamrun defender who was given his marching orders.
Ħamrun coach Mark Buttigieg was forced to drop Emerson Marcelina at the heart of the defensive line, a move that paid dividends for the Spartans.
In fact, the Brazilian midfielder initiated Ħamrun’s move that led to their equaliser when he found Karl Micallef on the right flank and the latter let fly a cross into the box which Jorge Ailton Soares headed past the diving Christoffer Mafoumbi. For Soares, also known as Dodo, this was his eighth goal in 12 matches.
Just before half-time, Mosta custodian Mafoumbi denied Matthew Guillaumier from a free-kick as both teams ended a pulsating first half in a 1-1 stalemate.
At the restart, Ħamrun almost instantly forged ahead but Joseph Mbong’s strike hit the crossbar.
It was a matter of time for Ħamrun to find a second and they did so on 52 minutes.
Darko Gojkovic pounced on a short clearance by Mosta and headed the ball into the path of Marcelina who fired a thumping volley, only for Franklin Sasere to deflect it past Mafoumbi.
Past the hour mark, Mosta’s numerical advantage was cancelled when Matias Muchardi was shown a second yellow card after flooring Soares.
Predrag Djordjevic squandered a glorious chance to extend Ħamrun’s lead when he sailed the ball over the bar from inside the penalty box.
Nonetheless, Ħamrun still managed to find a third and virtually seal the win when Sasere grabbed his second goal of the game after capitalising on a Soares low cross. Sasere has now joined Soares on eighth-goal mark in this campaign.
With Ħamrun controlling the game in a comfortable manner, coach Buttigieg took the opportunity to deploy Soufiane Lagzir for his second debut at Ħamrun.
The Morrocan forward almost left an immediate impact but his close-range effort was blocked by Mafoumbi as Ħamrun remained in charge of the game to take home the victory.