ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 3
Sasere 20, 64, 80
M. Bartolo-6, D. Gojkovic-6.5, M. Guillaumier-7 (86 C. Borg), J. Mbong-7 (88 X. Portelli), J. Ailton Soares-7 (83 D. Borg), F. Sasere-9 (88 M. Laraspata), B. Cittadini-6 (55 I. Adeshina), Elkin Serrano Valero-6.5, J. Corbalan-7, P. Djordjevic-7, K. Micallef-6.5.
H. Bonello-5, J. Caruana-5, S. Malano-5, M. Piciollo-5, K. Nwoko-5, J. Borg (15 R. Camilleri-5), E. Pena Beltre (22 E. Sala-5.5), R. Muscat-5, L. Aguirre-5, M. Alba-5 (70 T. Caruana), R. Fenech-5 (70 S. Dimech).
Referee Ishmael Barbara.
Yellow cards Fenech, Micallef, Sala, Guillaumier.
BOV Player of the match Franklin Sasere (Ħamrun Spartans).
Ħamrun Spartans sent another real statement of their title credentials when they brushed aside Valletta in a dominant display at the Hibs Stadium.
The Reds were clearly the better side on the day as for long stretches of the match they held control of proceedings with their high pressing giving little time for the Citizens to create any kind of danger to Manuel Bartolo in the Spartans goal.
However, the stand out performer for the Spartans on the day the Reds signed Ivory Coast forward Seydou Doumbia, was their Nigerian forward Franklin Sasere who again underlined his importance to his team’s cause with an impressive hat-trick that earned his team three vital points that kept them two points clear of rivals Hibernians.
Ħamrun Spartans were led from the touchline by assistant coach Stefan Sultana as coach Mark Buttigieg started to serve a two-match touchline ban following his dismissal in teh 2-2 draw against Sta Lucia.
The Reds were without midfielder Emerson Marcelina, who was suspended while Soufiane Lagzir missed out through injury after fracturing his metatarsal and is ruled out for the rest of the season. Blas Cittadini and Predrag Djordjevic were given the nod to return to the starting XI.
Valletta, on their part, made one change from the team that beat Balzan as Mihailo Jovanovic was not included as the Serbian is set to return to his homeland due to family reasons. Jonathan Caruana was given the nod to start.
Ħamrun took the ground running and after two minutes of play they almost took the lead. Jorge Ailton Soares raced clear on the right and his shot was pushed away by Henry Bonello.
Ailton Soares remained as the Spartans’ main source of creating chances and on nine minutes he found Franklin Sasere who, however, volleyed the ball over.
Valletta suffered a blow on 15 minutes when coach Antonio Jose Cardoso Mendes lost Jean Borg to injury and threw on Ryan Camilleri.
Ħamrun took the lead on 20 minutes when Ailton Soares raced past Enmy Pena Beltre and saw his cross deflected by Alba into the path of the unmarked Sasere who fired home.
The Citizens suffered a second injury on 22 minutes when Pena Beltre also limped out injured and was replaced by Eslit Sala.
Ħamrun maintained control of the match with midfield duo Predrag Djordjevic and Matthew Guillaumier dominant figures giving little chance for their opponents to settle down.
Still, the Reds had to wait until three minutes from the break to threaten again when Karl Micallef fed Joseph Mbong who sped clear on the right and served Ailton Soares who, however, fired over.
The Cape Verde forward continued to threaten the City defence two minutes into the second half when in a quick transition, Ailton Soares sped clear, turned past Jonathan Caruana, and instead of serving the unmarked Mbong opted to shoot and his effort was blocked by Bonello.
However, the Reds did manage to add a second goal on 64 minutes when Djordjevic put Sasere clear and the Nigerian kept his cool to slot the ball past Bonello.
Valletta looked down and out and Ħamrun added a third goal ten minutes from time when Ailton Soares squared the ball into the path of the unmarked Sasere to push into an empty net to complete his hat-trick and cap a memorable day for the Spartans.