SLIEMA WANDERERS 1
GŻIRA UNITED 3
Pisani 12; Maxuell 19
Sliema Wanderers T. Aquilina-4, J. P. Morales-5, R. Schiavi-5.5 (79 E. Agius), G. Aquilina-5 (46 D. Holla), M. Scerri-5 (63 Y. Uchida), I. Gui-5.5 (77 A. Samb), M. Piciollo-6, J.P. Farrugia-6, M. Beerman-5, D. Vukovic-6, M. Davis-5 (70 J. Engerer).
Gżira United D. Radelic Zarkov-7, G. Bohrer-6, M. Cosic-6, N. Muscat-6, S. Pisani-6.5, Z. Scerri-6, Y. Messias-6 (90 N. Taliana), A. Pavic-6, Maxuell-7 (75 C. Gauci), Jefferson-6.5 (90 H. Kabar).
Referee Alex Johnson.
Yellow cards Beerman, Pavic, Bohrer, Scerri, Messias, Engerer, Portelli.
BOV Player of the match Maxuell Maia (Gżira United).
Gżira United opened the new year in some style when they brushed aside bottom-placed Sliema Wanderers at the Centenary Stadium.
Much more was expected from the Wanderers who took the pitch with several new signings as they looked to kickstart their bid to move away from the relegation places.
But their hopes were hampered by some glaring defensive mistakes and profligacy in front of goal which were duly punished by Maroons.
In fact, Gżira had built their win inside the first 20 minutes when they surged into a two-goal lead and from then on, they managed to hold off their opponents before adding a third midway through the second half.
With this win, Gżira joined Valletta on the 20-point mark while Sliema remained bottom with four points.
Sliema should have taken the lead inside the first minute when Martin Davis, facing his old team-mates since his loan move this month, ran clear on the right and his low cross was pushed away by Radelic Zarkov into the path of Matteo Piciollo who however, failed to push the ball into the net.
However, it was Gżira who drew first blood on 11 minutes when in their first foray, Yuri Messias, in his last appearance with the club before heading to the Middle East, won a free-kick just outside the area and Steve Pisani curled the ball past Timothy Aquilina.
Things got worse for Sliema six minutes later, when Raffaele Schiavi passed the ball back to Timmy Aquilina and the Blues goalkeeper sent the ball straight into the path of Maxuell Maia who lobbed the ball into the net.
Sliema thought they pulled a goal back when Inters Gui headed home from a Jean Paul Farrugia cross but the ‘goal’ was annulled for offside much to the chagrin of the Sliema clan.
Aquilina then made amends for his previous mistake when he produced a fine save to deny Maxuell.
Sliema started the second half brightly and on 50 minutes Farrugia was denied by Radelic Zarkov.
Six minutes later, Vukovic deflected wide Maxuell’s shot that looked destined to hit the net. From the flag-kick, Maxuell’s header came off the bar and Marko Cosic’s effort from the rebound was pushed away by Aquilina.
Any hope Sliema might have had of levelling matters were all but extinguished on 70 minutes when Marko Cosic’s throughball found Jefferson and the Brazilian turned past his marker and drilled the ball past Aquilina.
Sliema did, however, pull a goal back three minutes from time when Jean Paul Farrugia headed the ball into the net.