LIJA ATHLETIC 0
GUDJA UNITED 1
Messias 88 pen.
L. Bonnici-6.5, C. Cassar-5.5 (67 A. Mizzi) (86 D. Scerri), I. Borg-5.5, E. Beu-6, F. Brandan-6.5, H. Wood-6, W. Serrano-6, M. Jimenez-6, J. Gill-6, C. Giordimaina-5.5, C. Flores-5.
G. Zammit-6, Y. Messias-6.5, L. Cremona-6, G. Mensah-6.5 (90 L. Pisani), I. Gonzalez-6, N. Micallef-6, E. da Silva-5 (76 J. Brincat), V. Conceicao-6 (89 H. Vella), G. Adamovic-5.5, J. Bolanos-5.5, D. Camilleri-6.
Referee: Etienne Mangion.
Yellow cards: Cremona, Micallef, Mizzi, Messias, Zammit.
BOV Player of the Match: Fernando Brandan (Lija Athletic).
Yuri Messias bid farewell to Gudja United in the best possible manner when he converted a late penalty to hand his team a narrow win over Lija Athletic in a drab encounter.
The Brazilian forward was playing his final match for the southerners as he is set to join a club in Bahrain and ended his career in style to help Jesmond Zammit’s side to return to winning ways after suffering back-to-back defeats in their last two matches before the team was forced into mandatory quarantine.
Gudja United re-join Valletta in eighth place on 23 points.
Like Gudja, Lija were also playing their first game in over a month. Considering their performance, they could consider themselves unlucky to leave the Hibernians Stadium empty-handed. Lying second from bottom on just six points, they seem resigned to play in the BOV Challenge League next season.
Goal-mouth action was lacking for most of the first half with the two teams sharing the exchanges.
However, on 27 minutes, Lija went close with an Erjon Beu effort, served by Fernando Brandan, whose shot was blocked into a corner by Neil Micallef.
Seven minutes from the end of the first half, Erjon Beu entered the area from the left but his diagonal shot scraped past the post. Three minutes later, Jimenez served Beu whose conclusion was deflected into a corner.
In the second half, Gudja showed better ideas and on 47 minutes, they had an excellent opportunity to take the lead when Yuri Messias sent Vanger Conceicao through but scuffed his effort which was easily blocked by goalkeeper Luke Bonnici.
Nine minutes later, Messias served Gabriel Mensah who was not quick to conclude from the edge of the area and eventually his shot from the right was parried by the Lija goalkeeper.
Six minutes from time, a Messias effort from the edge of the area ended just wide.
But two minutes later, Gabriel Mensah served Messias. The Brazilian tried to pull to a more central position, but was brought down inside the area.
Referee Etienne Mangion pointed to the spot, among the harsh protests by the Lija players and officials. Messias picked himself up to fire the ball into the net.