ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 1
PEMBROKE ATHLETA 1
Żebbuġ Rangers were crowned champions of the BOV Challenge League after they beat Pembroke Athleta 5-4 on penalties in the title decider on Saturday.
The match was a climax to an impressive season – the first to go all the way since 2019.
Pembroke had gone the entire season unbeaten in the league, while Żebbuġ had rallied throughout the second half of the campaign to take the top spot of their group.
However, with the deciding fixture at stake, it was Brian Spiteri’s squad that came out on top.
Żebbuġ started off the more defensive side in the match with Pembroke pushing high up the pitch. Weverton Gomes was close to opening the score after eight minutes after a run on the left, beating his marker into the area but his low show bounced off the post.
However, Pembroke found their way in when Erikys Ferreira met a corner with a volleyed shot into the net.
Ferreira was close to make it 2-0 just before the half hour when he met a low cross with a first-timed shot but Jamie Azzopardi was on hand to parry the ball away.
Żebbuġ had their best chance with ten minutes to go to half-time when Igor Misan chased a throughball into the area and fired at goal, but his effort was collected by former Rangers goalkeeper Matthew Grech.
The Yellows came out stronger after the break and Miguel Perez Jimenez fired at goal within the first minute but his effort was easily saved.
The match saw both sides cancelling each other for the next 20 minutes before Neil Pace Cocks forced a great save from Azzopardi who dived full stretch to push over a tipped effort.
However, there was to be an equaliser on the cards as substitute Shalon Diacono, introduced earlier on during a triple change, fired in a long-range freekick that flew low into the bottom left corner.
The deadlock could not be broken by the 90th minute, but with tensions high among the players, Żebbuġ found themselves a player down when Stanimir Miloskovic received his second yellow card after hacking Adophus Marshall close to the halfway line in the 115th minute.
In spite of this, the match remained at par and was to be decided from the spot.
Żebbuġ shot-stopper Azzopardi was the hero this time as he stopped Gomes’s spotkick while his teammates scored without fail.
Pembroke Athleta: M. Grech, K. Farrugia, D. Sant, N. Pace Cocks, E. Ferreira, J. Suda, C. Zammit, J. Bajada, J. Bondin, S. Jankovic, W. Gomes.
Żebbuġ Rangers: J. Azzopardi, S. Bugeja, T. Bartolo, Y. Tonna, A. Mizzi, M. Perez Jimenez, R. Vella, J. Sciberras, S. Miloskovic, G. Gesualdi, I. Misan.
Referee Andrea Sciriha.