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Ħamrun Spartans maintain title charge with Gżira win

Ħamrun Spartans' Franklin Sasere watches as his shot goes behind Justin Haber and into the net. Photo: Mark Zammit Cordina

GŻIRA UNITED               1

Davis 90 pen.


Sasere 27; Dielna 79

GŻIRA UNITED: J. Haber-6, G. Mentz-6, S. Borg-6, N. Muscat-5 (60 S. Pisani), M. Davis-6, N. Portelli-5.5 (74 D. Xuereb), Maxuell-5, J. Mendoza-5, R. Correa-6.5, Sacha Borg-5 (75 A. Cohen), B. Atajic-5 (60 Jefferson).

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS: E. Bartolo-6.5, D. Gojkovic-6.5, M. Guillaumier-6, J. Mbong-7, J. Ailton Soares-7, F. Sasere-7.5, E. Serrano Valero-7, J. Corbalan-8, P. Djordjevic-6.5, C. Dielna-7.5, S. Doumbia-6 (75 I. Adeshina).

Referee: Malcolm Spiteri.

Yellow cards: Sasere, Davis, Djordjevic, Mendoza.

BOV Player of the match: Juan Corbolan (Ħamrun Spartans)

Ħamrun Spartans took a significant step towards a first league title in 30 years when they overcame the challenge of title rivals Gżira United.

It was a sound performance from the Spartans who managed to outwit the Maroons in all aspects of the game.

In fact, although Gżira held possession for long stretches of the match, they rarely created any danger as the Spartans defence, which featured the impressive debutant Claude Dielna, kept the Maroons forwards quiet.

On the other hand, Ħamrun were far more clinical than their opponents as they managed to capitalise on their best scoring chances to secure three vital points that kept them two points clear of nearest rivals Hibernians whom they meet next week.

There was little separating either side in the opening minutes with Gżira coming close after nine minutes whehn Nevin Portelli’s cross was met by Maxuell Maia who headed just over.

The match was developing into a tight affair with the Spartans, playing in a new 4-3-3 formation, trying to dictate proceedings but the Maroons were not giving time to their opponents to settle down with their high pressing.

On 26 minutes, the Spartans took the lead when Jorge Ailton Soares picked Franklin Sasere inside the area and the Nigerian blasted his shot past Justin Haber.

Three minutes later, Mbong found Corbalan at the far post and the Spartans wingback saw his shot flash past the upright.

Gżira almost levelled matters ten minutes from the break, when Ricardo Correa turned past Darko Gojkovic and his firm drive just missed the upright.

Two minutes later, Ħamrun came close themselves when Corbalan picked Seydou Doumbia inside the area but the former Roma striker was denied by Haber.

After the interval, Gżira United tried to step up their game and on 59 minutes, they came close When Bahrudin Atajic fed Correa but the Uruguayan wing-back fired into the side netting.

Twelve minutes from time, the Spartans sealed the points when Ailton Soares chipped the ball into the path of Claude Dielna who hammered the ball into the net.

Gżira came close to pull a goal back on 81 minutes, but Bartolo did well to palm away Dexter Xuereb’s cross-shot.

Four minutes from time, Martin Davis saw his angled drive flash past the upright.

Gżira pulled a goal back in stoppage time when Joseph Mbong was harshly adjudged to have fouled Steve Borg inside the area with TV replays showing that the Ħamrun defender had cleared the ball cleanly.

From the spot, Davis sent Bartolo the wrong way, but that was too little too late as the Spartans held on for the win.

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