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Ciolacu’s late strike puts Floriana past battling Għajnsielem

FLORIANA       1           

Ciolacu 77

GĦAJNSIELEM 0

FLORIANA

M. Bartolo, A. Magri Overend (73’ A. Garzia), O. El Hasni, R. Hovsepyan, K. Keqi (53’ J. Busuttil), A. Ciolacu, O. Spiteri, M. Garcia (73’ B. Paiber), B. Gimenez (53’ E. Rebenja), A. Vella (53’ R. Camenzuli), E. Callegari.

GĦAJNSIELEM

A. Parnis, K. Borg, A. Xuereb, D. Farrugia (87’ D. Bogdanovic), K. Mercieca, S. Attard, M. Bezzina (82’ K. Farrugia), J. De Sousa, R. Watanabe (84’ J. Camilleri), L. Grima (82’ K. Grima), I. Nedeljkovic.

Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann

Floriana struggled much more than expected to edge past Għajnsielem, beating them 1-0, to set up a clash with St George’s in the Round of 16.

The Gozitans, led by coach Gotthard Conti, defended well to frustrate the Greens and it was only a goal late in the second half that made the whole difference.

In fact, although Atzori planned to rest some of the more regular players, he was forced to include Eugenjo Rebenja, Ryan Camenzuli and Jan Busuttil early in the second half.

On 12 minutes, Michael Bezzina tested Manuel Bartolo with a corner from the left which was neutralised by the Floriana custodian.

Floriana replied with a good run on the left by Brian Ariel Gimenez but his diagonal shot was turned into a corner by goalkeeper Adrian Parnis on 21 minutes.

Three minutes later, Gimenez delivered a corner from the right, Oualid El Hasni nodded the ball in the direction of Kristian Keqi whose header was saved in two attempts by Parnis.

A cross by Magri Overend was neutralised by the Għajnsielem goaklkeeper on 34 minutes and three minutes later, the Floriana wingback sent Brian Gimenez through on the left but his conclusion from inside the area was blocked by the goalkeeper.

One minute from half-time, Għajnsielem had the opportunity to take the lead when Igor Nedljkovic pounced on a long-distance through pass and rounded the goalkeeper but his conclusion was cleared into safety by El Hasni.

In the second half, the Blacks continued to defend well, hardly giving their opponents the chance to shoot at goal.

However, on 77 minutes, the Greens managed to break the deadlock.

Jan Busuttil entered the area from the right and rounded a defender with his final shot was blocked by Parnis, Eugeniu Rebenja’s close range effort was also blocked by the Gudja custodian but off the rebound, Andrei Ciolacu headed home.

Three minutes from time, Busuttil almost made it 2-0 but his goal-bound effort was blocked by a defender and in added time, Ciolacu had a low shot from close-range deflected into a corner by Adrian Parnis.

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