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Gżira thump Mqabba to reach last-16 berth

GŻIRA UNITED  8

Atajic 3; Correa 5; Mentz 8; Jefferson 24,40, 81; Pinheiro 37p, Mendoza 76

MQABBA 0

Gżira United: A. Curmi (46 M. Buhagiar), G. Bohrer, Steve Borg (46 K Pulo) N. Muscat, D. Xuereb, J. Mendoza, R. Correra (46 C. Borg), Sacha Borg (46 O Elouni), B. Atajic (46 A. Scicluna), M. Pinheiro, Jefferson.

Mqabba: J. Grech, O. Khatib (67 J. Azzopardi), N. Falzon, G. Mannino (67 G. Azzopardi), D. Pace (75 G. Micallef), R. Cauchi (90 C. Ghio), R. Cutajar (90 S. Pisani), R. Spiteri, M. Bangoura, D. Micallef, G. Bugeja.

Referee: Philip Farrugia

Yellow card: Mannino

Gżira United rounded off a positive week in emphatic fashion as they routed Mqabba to book a place in the next round of the FA Trophy.

The first positive news of the day for Gżira came off the field when their title challenge received a big boost yesterday as the MFA Protests Board ruled that Gudja’s Sergio Cruz was ineligible to play as he had already turned out for three clubs this season.

Tonight they underlined their credentials with a devastating attacking display.

Darren Abdilla made three changes but still fielded a strong side as the XI did not feature Gżira’s winter signings – Maxuell Maia and Steve Pisani.

Bahrudin Atajic was again in the starting formation to lead the line in a 4-3-3 formation kick-started matters after three minutes with a perfect right-foot half-volley from Dexter Xuereb’s cross, finishing off a first flowing move for Gżira.

There was little respite for Mqabba as Ricardo Correa on the sprint brought Steve Borg’s ball over the top down first time, and then dinked past keeper Jonathan Grech with a low drive. It was an exquisite strike and the Uruguayan’s moment of brilliance continued. In the eighth minute, Gabriel Bohrer completely unmarked head home Correa’s pin-point cross from a corner.

Just 23 minutes were on the clock when Gżira racked up their fourth – Jefferson stretching to volley home Xuereb’s cross.

Pinheiro made it 5-0 when he played one-two with Jefferson and was hauled down by Gabriel Mannino as he closed in on goal. The Brazilian picked himself up to score from the spot.

Three minutes later, Jefferson raced on to Jackson Mendoza’s flick, rounded Grech to slot in his second of the game and Gżira’s sixth.

It was no surprise when Abdilla made five changes at half-time, giving home-grown hopes Krassimir Zammit and Alexander Scicluna experience in the first-team as well as bringing on Karl Pulo, Clyde Borg, and Omar Elouni.

But this move backfired on Gżira as Elouni lasted just 20 minutes when he had to abandon the field of play injured and watched the remaining of the match from the substitutes’ bench. With his side already affecting all substitutions, the Maroons had to play the last 25 minutes with 10 men.

But it mattered little as Jackson Mendoza brought up Gżira’s seventh with swerving shot from a tight angle while Jefferson rounded off the goal frenzy. The Brazilian showed great skill to round his marker with a cute lob before hitting past Grech to complete his hat-trick.

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