LIJA ATHLETIC 2
Brandon 25, 33
Floriana: A. Cassar-5, N. Leone-5, K. Keqi-5, J. Ulises-5, B. Paiber-5 (70 D. Venancio-6), J. Pisani-6, M. Garcia-6, A. Cini, S. Arab-4 (46 J. Lombe-), F. Cheveresan-4, R. Camenzuli-5.
Lija: L. Bonniċi-6, L. Muscat-6, I. Borg-6, E. Beu-6.5, F. Brandon-7.5, W. Serrano-6, M. Jimenez-7 (90 A. Galea), J. Gill Cruz-6, C. Giordimaina-5.5, G. Virano-6, C. Flores-5.5 (77 D. Scerri).
Referee: Stefan Pace
Yellow cards: Garcia, Arab, Cini, Cruz Gill, Virano, Lombe, Beu,
Red card: Alex Cini (Floriana) 90+
BOV player of the match: Fernando Javier Brandan (Lija Athletic)
Lija Athletic recorded a famous premier league victory over Floriana as the champions suffered their third defeat in six matches.
Fernando Brandan scored both goals after some excellent play by Miguel Jimenez allowed the diminutive striker to poke the ball home unchallenged in both occasions.
John Buttiġieġ’s decision to leave Diego Venancio and Jan Busuttil on the bench backfired as Brandan put Lija 2-0 up by half-time.
Jurgen Pisani reduced the deficit at the start of the second half but despite the persistent efforts by the Greens, they simply could not find a way through a determined Lija defence.
Given their abysmal record of just one win in their last 10 games, Floriana knew they needed to win this match not to get embroiled in the relegation mire.
They came out at the Centenary Stadium with the intention of doing so but were restricted to long-range shots from Flavio Cheverson who missed the target earlier on.
Floriana, with Kristian Keqi and Siraj Arab operating either side of the Brazilian striker upfront, were hardly much of a threat as Lija looked comfortable soaking up the pressure.
It was somewhat of a surprise when Lija took the lead on 25 minutes. After some good work from Miguel Jimenez down the right, the Columbian striker found Fernando Brandan running clear in the box to slot home.
Floriana could do little else apart from continuing to come forward, but they were caught out by another swift counter-attack for Lija’s second goal on 33 minutes. Jimenez threaded a through-ball towards Brandan who calmly lobbed a stranded Andrea Cassar for a great strike.
New Dutch striker Jeroen Lombe was brought on at halftime in an attempt to give Floriana more of a threat upfront.
Floriana pulled one back two minutes shy of the hour mark when Keqi’s free-kick found Jurgen Pisani at the far post who prodded home from close in.
But the Greens defence were kept busy bu Lija, with Jimenez, Brandan and Erjon Beu. The Albanian striker played an exquisite ball to Carlos Flores, whose shot was blocked on the goalline by Pisani.
Buttiġieġ make a further change, bringing on Diego Venancio for Brandon Paiber. The Brazilian immediately picked up the ball near the halfway line and launched for Keqi who spurned a glorious chance after failing to beat the onrushing goalkeeper Luke Bonniċi.
Four minutes from time, Lija survived a huge scare when Clayton Giordimaina foolishy pulled Cheveresan down near the D. The freekick was awarded in perfect Venancio territory. But the Brazilian’s effort finished just over the crossbar.
At death, Floriana were reduced to 10 men when Alex Cini was dismissed for a second bookable offence.