ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 2
H. Bonello-6; D. Gojkovic-6, M. Guillaumier-6.5, J. Mbong-6, A. Oyama-5, F. Sasere-6, L. Gambin-6 (78 P. Djordjevic), K. Micallef-6, C. Dielna-6, E. Marcelina-5 (46 Dodo-7), F. El Bakhtaoui-5.
G. Kitanov-6; A. Magri Overend-6, O. El Hasni, Z. Cassar-6.5, R. Hovsepyan-6.5, J. Arias-6, B. Paiber-6, E. Callegari-6, E. Rebenja-5, J. Busuttil-6.5 (54 O. Spiteri-6), R. Camenzuli-6.5.
Referee Matthew Degabriele.
Yellow cards Marcelina, El Hasni, Gambin, Dielna.
Red card O. El Hasni (Floriana) 84.
BOV Player of the Match Dodo (Ħamrun Spartans).
Floriana and Ħamrun Spartans shared the spoils in a four-goal thriller that made league leaders Hibernians the happiest team after this weekend’s fixtures.
Despite their 0-0 draw against relegation strugglers Sta Lucia – their third straight stalemate, Hibernians maintained their four-point lead over second-placed Floriana while Ħamrun stay third, trailing the Paolites by seven points.
On the other hand, this draw keeps Floriana and Ħamrun’s championship hopes alive with six games left to wrap up the second round before the five Championship Pool games.
Matthew Guillaumier was in the starting formation for the Spartans, in what could have been his final game in Malta before departing to Serie B side Reggina.
Ryan Camenzuli’s lead for Floriana was the only sign of life in a boring opening 45 minutes where chances were scarce.
Nonetheless, the teams made amends in the second half, producing a pulsating game which could have gone either side but in the end the stalemate prevailed.
Immediately at the start, Floriana forward Eugeniu Rebenja darted into Ħamrun Spartans’ penalty area and struck a shot which sailed over the bar.
In the 13th minute, Rebenja turned into an assist man when he delivered a cross into the goal area on which Ryan Camenzuli capitalised from point-blank range.
Ħamrun were trying to stage a reaction but every chance they were trying to create was smothered by the Floriana defence as there were no more goals in the opening 45 minutes.
At the restart, Ħamrun coach Mark Buttigieg deployed Dodo in an attempt to bolster the attack and find a leveller.
The substitution paid dividends when Dodo headed home a Luke Gambin cross into the far post for his third goal of the season.
Nonetheless, their joy was cut short thanks to a Roman Hovsepyan’s delightful solo effort who beat four opponents before slotting past Henry Bonello with a low drive.
But Floriana’s joy was shortlived as a minute later Ħamrun equalised through a Franklin Sasere’s shot from close-range as the game was now lived up to its expectations.
Both sides squandered a glorious opportunity each through Dodo and Adam Magri Overend as Ħamrun and Floriana were pushing for a winner.
Serbian midfielder Predrag Djordjevic almost scored a brilliant first timer with his first touch but goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov was alert to tip his effort into corner.
In the closing stages of the game, Floriana were dealt a blow when defender El Hasni was given his marching orders following a second yellow after flooring Dodo.
Ħamrun tried to snatch a late winner with Faisal El Bakhtaoui letting fly a shot from the edge of the area which Kitanov pushed over.