STA LUCIA 1
Alan 58 pen
ŻEJTUN CORINTHIANS 1
C. Farrugia-6.5; T. Tabone Desira-5 (46 M. Camilleri-6); A. Prates-6; K. Correia-6; A. Magri Overend-0; Alan-6 (90 A. Vella); K. Rosero-6.5; L. Filho-6; J. Zerafa-6; R. Tachikowa; K. Xuereb-5 (46 A. Caseres-6).
C. Cassar-6; L. Moreira-6; K. Reid-5; Robeiro-5; T. Bonfim-6; C. Grech-6; S. Da Silva; V. Vieira-6; Washington-6 (77 G. Bugeja); E. Herrera-5; N. Tabone-5.
Referee: Stefan Pace.
Yellow cards: Tachikawa, Vieira, Rosero, Correia.
Red card: Rei Tachikawa (SL) 80; Sergio (Ż) 86.
BOV Player of the Match: Alan (Sta Lucia).
Żejtun Corinthians and Sta Lucia scored a goal in each half to share the spoils at the National Stadium.
The goalless stalemate leaves Sta Lucia seventh on 24 points, four adrift of the final European spot in the Premier League, currently occupied by Gżira United at 28 points.
On the other hand, Żejtun leapfrogged Balzan into 12th place – the play-out spot – on 17 points.
In the opening stages of the game, Sta Lucia seemed more in command as they were having more of the ball, but without really threatening their opponents.
Żejtun’s initial approach was more cautious, looking to catch their opponents on the break.
Early in the game, Sta Lucia had an Adam Magri Overend’s shot deflected into corner.
Moments later, Vitor Vieira attempted a cross shot that did not harm the Sta Lucia goalkeeper.
Oliver Spiteri’s side had another effort on goal, this time through a Kevin Correia header that was smothered by Christian Cassar.
As the half wore on, Żejtun started to pile up more pressure and the quality of the offensive department started to prevail.
Sergio Da Silva fired a long-range shot but his effort sailed over the bar before a Vieira’s shot resulted in the same outcome.
Nonetheless, Orosco Anonam’s side managed to break the deadlock when Da Silva whipped in a delightful ball onto which Thiago Bonfim capitalised with a looping header.
The final noteworthy chance of the first 45 minutes dropped onto the feet of forward Robeiro who failed to fire home from Da Silva’s cross from inside the penalty area.
At the restart, Spiteri handed a debut to forward Augusto Caseres who joined the club during this transfer window.
Sta Lucia were offered the chance to get back on level terms when they were awarded a penalty after Kevin Ante Rosero was floored inside the area.
Skipper Alan converted from the penalty spot for his fifth goal of the season.
Żejtun’s reaction came soon after through Vieira who let fly a strike from the edge of the penalty box only for the ball to finish wide.
Unlike the first half, Sta Lucia were looking more threatining, gaining more foothold in the game, in particular thanks to the contribution that Caseres was providing in between the pressure lines.
Fifteen minutes from time, Washington had a freekick on goal for Żejtun only to be denied by Christopher Farrugia as the teams remained locked at 1-1.
Sta Lucia’s Kevin Ante Rosero fired a long-range effort that forced Cassar into action as both teams were in search of a late winner.
Ten minutes from time, Japanese winger Rei Tachikawa was given the marching orders for a second yellow card.
Nonetheless, on the 82nd minute, Sta Lucia could have forged ahead but squandered a glorious opportunity.
Caseres darted towards goal but hesitated in front of Cassar, passed the ball towards the incoming Ante Rosero who fired wide.
Three minutes from time, Żejtun finished with ten men as well after Da Silva was given a straight red for a dangerous foul.
While both Sta Lucia and Żejtun tried to force a final assault for a late winner, none of them managed to find the breakthrough as the stalemate prevailed.