GŻIRA UNITED 1
Davis 77 pen
LIJA ATHLETIC 0
A. Curmi-6, Steve Borg-6, S. Pisani-6, D. Xuereb-6, M. Davis-6.5, N. Portelli-6, M. Maia-6, Sacha Borg-6, B. Atajic-6, F. Pinheiro-5.5 (71 A. Cohen), Jefferson-5.5.
L. Bonnici-6.5, C. Cassar-6, I. Borg-6, F. Brandan-6.5, H. Wood-5.5, W. Serrano-5.5, M. Jimenez-6, J. Gill-5.5, C. Giordimaina, G. Virano-6 (84 D. Scerri), C. Flores-5.5.
Referee: Emanuel Grech.
Yellow cards: Sacha Borg, Portelli, Xuereb, I. Borg, Giordimaina.
Red card: Giordimaina (L) 90
BOV Player of the Match: Martin Davis (Gżira).
A penalty 13 minutes from time enabled Gżira United to keep the pace with leaders Ħamrun Spartans and second-placed Hibernians, as they edged Lija Athletic 1-0.
The result was quite harsh on Lija considering that they shared the exchanges for long stretches and definitely did not deserve to leave the pitch empty-handed. They had their fair share of scoring opportunities, controlling well their more-quoted opponents.
The Maroons could not count on the suspended Gabriel Bohrer Mentz, Nikolai Muscat, Ricardo Correa and Jackson Mendoza forcing coach Darren Abdilla to name a more offensive side than usual with a number of forwards like Maxuell, Atajic, Pinheiro and Jefferson all featuring in the starting line-up.
Lija, on the other hand, lacked Erjon Beu.
Following a quiet start, Maxuell Maia went close to putting Gżira ahead on 15 minutes with a shot from the right but goalkeeper Luke Bonnici deflected his effort with Carl Cassar clearing the ball into safety.
Four minutes later, Bonnici then performed a good save on a close-range effort by Jefferson following a Steve Pisani freekick.
A Carlos Flores effort from the left was turned into a corner by Anthony Curmi on 28 minutes and a minute later, Miguel Jimenez hit the foot of the upright with a shot from the edge of the area.
However, on 35 minutes, the Maroons threatened once again with a low shot which was blocked by the goalkeeper and three minutes later, the foot of the post denied Maxuell after receiving a cross by Davis from the right.
One minute from the end of the first half, Lija went close with a powerful drive by Fernando Brandan from the edge of the area which ended just wide.
The second half was a completely different story from the first with the two sets of defenders prevailing on the respective strikers.
The game seemed heading for a goalless draw but on 76 minutes, Gżira were awarded a penalty for dangerous play by Clayton Giordimaina on Andrew Cohen. From the spot, Martin Davis blasted home the winner.
To make matters worse for Lija, Clayton Giordimaina received a second yellow card in the dying minutes to leave his side in ten men.