Challenge League leaders Marsa went three points clear at the top of the table after beating Swieqi 2-0 on Sunday at the Centenary Stadium.
The match against fourth-placed Swieqi United had looked to be a tough battle, however, it was Marsa who took charge from the outset and were repaid with a goal on either side of the half.
Marsa forward Lydon Micallef, one of the protagonists in Sunday’s match, with a goal and an assist, will be looking forward to being back in the highest division of Maltese football since his move to Marsa from Balzan last year.
“I think it was a very good collective performance, and we all fought for each other,” Micallef told the Times of Malta.
“We played against a very good team with a chance to end up in the top two and get promotion to the Premier League. But I think we had a great game and we were good as a team – this makes you feel better about the result.
“I’m very happy with my assist and goal and I believe that if we continue playing like this, we have a very big chance to win the league”.
With the 2020-21 season now at the business end, teams like Marsa and Pembroke will be facing the most pressure to keep up their performance and seal the deal which will take them to promotion. Micallef insisted that the team needed to replicate Sunday’s performance for the rest of the season if they are to reach their goal.
“We need to be a team, like today, and play for each other,” he explained.
“Right now, we are at a difficult stage of the league, even with the pandemic and all which has seen us play our third game in seven days. But I believe that with the squad we have, both those who start and those who come in during the game, we can win the league title.”
Marsa were close to opening the score after just two minutes with a Jackson Lima free-kick which hit the side netting. From then on, both sides cancelled each other out until the end of the half when Micallef received the ball inside the Swieqi area, held off two defenders before laying the ball off to Dylan Grima, whose low shot crept under Swieqi goalkeeper Jean Claude Debattista.
After the break, Marsa sealed the match on 72 minutes when another solo effort by Micallef this time, led him away from another two defenders and with only the goalkeeper to beat, he fired into the bottom corner.
Despite a comfortable scoreline, drama ensued in the final stages of the match. A minute from time, Lima saw red after a head collision with Swieqi’s Joseph Willy resulted in him retaliating from the ground. While the former Hibernians midfielder was sent off, it was established right after the game that he was to be treated for a concussion.
The Brazilian has now received a three-match ban, together with a two-match ban for Marsa coach Ivan Zammit for dissent. Both decisions are set to be appealed by the club in the coming days.
SWIEQI UNITED 0
MARSA: N. Vella, M. Gauci, J. Bondin, C. Gatt Baldacchino, F. Gusman (65 P. Chircop), J. Lima, D. Agius, D. Grima (81 L. Grech), S. Shodiya (81 A. Monticelli), P. Teixeira, L. Micallef (86 I. Zammit).
SWIEQI UNITED: J.C. Debattista, C. Cutajar, M. Attard, M. Ivanovic (79 J. Willy), J. Magri Overend (61 D. Borg), I. Micallef, J. Micallef (69 C. Bouvet), A. Schembri Wismayer, M. Vella, F. Temile (79 T. Ayorinde), I. Salis (61 A. Okamura).
Referee: Fyodor Zammit.
Best player: Lydon Micallef (Marsa).
SAN ĠWANN 5
SAN GWANN: C. Formosa (68 D. Sciberras), Q. Adediran, C. Gauci, S. Kuyper (64 L. Mallia), (77 K. Bartolo), O. Spiteri, A. Chibueze, Z. Bowman (64 P. Kanzurov), A. Zammit, C. Omoruanzoje, G. Pace, A. Falzon (68 J. Bowman).
QORMI: M. Falzon, O. Sidibe, M. Busuttil, R. Uriu (64 A. Ayoub), L. Theuma (64 C. Debattista), R. Caruana (22 N. Meli), M. Busuttil (46 L. Farrugia), I. Mizzi, N. Gauci, A. Oliveira (82 L. Williams), I. Zammit.
Referee: Alex Johnson
Scorers: Chibueze (S) 34, 49; Zammit (S) 35; Farrugia (Q) 50; Adediran (S) 61; Sidibe (Q) 79; Kanzurov (S) 92.
PEMBROKE ATHLETA 0
FGURA UNITED 1
PEMBROKE ATHLETA: P. Schranz, A. Marshall (46 J. Ogunuppe), K. Farrugia (77 M. Zarb), D. Sant, K. Frendo, A. Abdeen (77 L. Chiedozie), P. Santos (72 J. Etim), N. Frendo, T. Fenech (46 M. Ciantar), C. Zammit, J. Bajada.
FGURA UNITED: L. Moore, T. Yanagizawa, C. Ciantar (63 J. Cassar), J. Barbara, T. Grech, G. Martin (70 J. Vella), O. Mifsud, C. Gandini, S. Borg (77 JP Attard), D. Caruana (70 S. Nanapere), N. Ojuola.
Referee: Aleksandar Jovanovic.
Scorer: Ojuola 39.
Red card: Mifsud (F) 59.
PIETÀ HOTSPURS 2
ST ANDREWS 3
PIETÀ HOTSPURS: M. Chetcuti, S. Okoh (87 L. Scicluna), N. Pace Cocks, J. Ghio (69 G. Borg), D. Segura, D. Mesa, S. Mizzi (46 N. Pisani), Z. Leonardi, I. Jalo (46 C. Ze Lucas), J. Scicluna, L. Galea.
ST ANDREWS: D. Formosa, I. Azzopardi, M. D’ Alessandro, N. Bradshaw, R. Micallef Decesare, M. Bartolo (87 M. Vella Vidal), K. Sano, A. Borg Olivier, G. Stefansson (87 Z. Muscat), L. Borg (70 J. Sixsmith), D. Jackson (69 M. Ono).
Referee: Ezekiel Barbara.
Scorers: Jackson (S) 9; Sano (S) 15; Stefansson (S) 17; Leonardi (P) 23; Ze Lucas (P) 90 pen.
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 1
NAXXAR LIONS 4
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS: M. Grech, S. Bugeja, J. Micallef, A. Mizzi, J. Silveira, C. Gauci, K. Atkinson (46 L. Mijic), R. Vella, K. Bondin (46 K. Tanti), S. Miloskovic, G. Gesualdi (67 J. Carbone).
NAXXAR LIONS: O. Borg, J. Sciberras (88 R. Mercieca), M. Fenech, M. Mifsud, E. Farias (83 S. Martinez), A. Azzopardi, R. Cassar, R. Blandon (88 C. Bibaku), S. Meilak, D. Kassekar, L. Schembri (74 A. Azzopardi).
Referee: Slawomir Olucha
Scorers: Fenech (N), Blandon (N) 43, 77; Mizzi (Z) 53; Martinez (N) 94.
QRENDI: J. Azzopardi, L. Martinelli, J. Busuttil, B. Muscat (81 D. Zarb), M. Brincat, A. Agius (61 S. Schembri), J. Diumasumbu (46 S. Perdomo), E. Vella, D. Azzopardi (61 A. Nilsson), M. Gatt (61 C. Camilleri), D. Bueno.
MQABBA: M. Buhagiar, N. Falzon, G. Mannino, D. Pace, K. Cutajar, R. Spiteri (85 S. Pisani), K. Borg (68 J. Castano), D. Micallef, B. Sciberras, N. Abouaisha (64 R. Cutajar), G. Micallef.
Referee: Glen Tonna
Scorers: Borg 44; Spiteri 72.
VITTORIOSA STARS 0
VITTORIOSA STARS: R. Marmara, G. Sultana (85 L. de Melo), J. Farrugia, D. Sowatey (79 D. Serna), K. Pace, A. Galea (85 Q. Bregman), G. Zammit, R. Previ, R. Dalli (79 I. Abela), A. Oularbi (85 L. Gauci) R. Farias.
MARSAXLOKK: F. Tabone (89 A. Chetcuti), J. Morales, N. Ghio, D. Cartella (76 G. Barone), JP Mifsud Triganza (89 R. Sammut), Zezinho (81 P. Doffo), B. Sciberras, D. Sammut (76 R. De Fex), C. Brincat, P. Xuereb, R. Fenech.
Referee: Shaun Calleja
Scorers: Cartella 8; De Fex 88.0