ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 3
Lagzir 66 pen.
STA LUCIA 0
Ħamrun Spartans: H. Bonello-7, D. Gojkovic-7, M. Guillaumier-5.5, J. Mbong-6.5, S. Lagzir-7 (79 P. Djordjevic), A. Oyama-6 (85 N. Micallef), L. Gambin-6.5 (85 S. Attard), K. Micallef-6.5, I. Ntow-6 (58 D. Borg), C. Dielna-6 (46 C. Mercieca-6), E. Marcelina-6.5.
Sta Lucia: J. Archibald-5, A. Prates-5, J. Pisani-6, N. Pulis-5 (86 E. Camilleri), G. Conti-6.5, P. Mota-6, V. Plut-5.5, A. da Silva Souza-6 (86 B. Agius), D. Xuereb-6, A. Vella-5 (37 J. Tanti-6.5), K. Xuereb-5 (37 F. Farias-6).
Referee: Fyodor Zammit.
Yellow cards: Pisani, Ntow, Gojkovic, Prates.
BOV Player of the match: Joseph Mbong
Ħamrun Spartans produced an efficient attacking display to fend off the spirited challenge of Sta Lucia to get back to winning ways at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.
After last week’s disappointing defeat to Hibernians, the Spartans were desperate to take all points to try and gain some lost ground on the Premier League front-runners.
The final scoreline might suggest that Ħamrun had a comfortable afternoon but it was anything but that against a battling Sta Lucia side.
In fact, the Reds looked in charge when taking a two-goal lead inside the first half-hour with their only two shots on target. But they had to survive a few scares as Sta Lucia created a lot of chances which they failed to take and that proved fatal.
In fact, Ħamrun went on to grab a third goal midway through the second half to seal the points that lifted them to the 15-point mark and back in the top six zone.
The Spartans were off to a flier and after only three minutes of play, they took the lead.
Arthur Oyama’s delivery from a corner was not cleared by the Sta Lucia defence and in came Darko Gojkovic who blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
Three minutes later, Julani Archibald, the Sta Lucia goalkeeper, did well to charge out of his goal to intercept a pass towards the goalbound Luke Gambin who was through on goal.
After 15 minutes, both sets of players had to contend with severe precipitation of the weather conditions as heavy rain fell onto the Tony Bezzina Stadium, making it very tricky for the players.
Four minutes later, Bonello had to be alert to keep hold of an Andre Prates shot as the Malta no.1 got hold of the ball in two attempts.
However, it was Ħamrun Spartans who doubled their lead on 27 minutes.
In another quick transition, Lagzir fed Mbong who quickly played a fine throughball towards Gambin who kept his cool to drill the ball past Archibald.
Sta Lucia almost replied immediately when Vito Plut found himself in acres of space but the Slovenian forward saw his shot well saved by Bonello.
Six minutes from the break, the Saints missed a good chance when from a Da Silva Souza corner kick, the ball fell to Conti who fired over.
Oliver Spiteri was clearly not happy with his Sta Lucia players and on 37 minutes he withdrew Andrea Vella and Kieran Xuereb, roping in Jan Tanti and Francisco Farias.
Sta Lucia did have the ball in the Spartans net on 40 minutes when Bonello failed to hold Jan Tanti’s shot and Plut was alert to fire home but the ‘goal’ was ruled out for an offside infringement from the Slovenian.
Sta Lucia almost scored inside the first minute of the second half when Bonello did well to somehow keep Conti’s long-range drive and from the rebound, Tanti’s cross was cleared away by Mbong.
At the other end, Archibald did well to push away Lagzir’s cross.
Chances continued to flow and on 49 minutes, Bonello had to charge out of his goal to deny Farias.
On 65 minutes, the Spartans were awarded a penalty when Lagzir was upended just inside the area by Da Silva Souza and from the spot, the Moroccan striker drilled the ball into the back of the net.