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Maxuell brace give Gzira win over hapless Zebbug Rangers

Gzira United's Carlos Riascos holds onto possession against Zebbug Rangers. Photo: Domenic Borg

ZEBBUG RANGERS 0

GZIRA UNITED 2

Maxuell 26 pen., 86 pen.

ZEBBUG RANGERS J. Azzopardi-7, S. Bugeja-5, L. Almeida-6, W. Santos-6 (67 G. Gesualdi), A. Mizzi-6.5 (60 J. Sciberras), S. Jankovic-5.5, C. Lokoli Ngoy-5.5, E. Sanchez-6, R. Vella-6, J. Macedo-6 (60 S. Miloskovic), A. Soto-5.5 (80 T. Bartolo).

GZIRA UNITED D. Zarko-6, L. Tabone-6, N. Muscat-6, S. Pisani-6.5 (60 B. Borg), Z. Scerri-6.5, M. Dias-7, C. Riascos-6, C. Gauci-6 (74 R. Correa Duarte), T. Kolega-7 (88 A. Borg), M. Cosic-6, M. Maia-7 (88 T. Espindola).

Referee Darryl Agius

Yellow cards Bugeja, Macedo, Soto

BOV Player of the match Maxuell Maia (Gzira United)

Gzira United beat Zebbug Rangers 2-0 on Sunday at the Tony Bezzina Stadium to get back to winning ways and climb up to third place with a dominant display against a Zebbug side that barely made any impact on the encounter.

Coming off a close defeat to Balzan, and another loss in an international friendly against Serie A side Inter, the Maroons were looking to bounce back. Coach Darren Abdilla had made no less than 11 substitutions against the Italian side on Monday, giving space to the majority of his squad. But on Sunday, it was largely the same set of players on the pitch except for Gabriel Mentz and Jefferson.

Zebbug, coming from a loss to Mosta themselves, made just the one change to their lineup as Almir Soto replaced Jordan Sciberras.  

Gzira looked the more offensive side in the opening stages and they tried their luck first after eight minutes but Carlos Riascos’ long-range effort went well over.

19 minutes into the affair, Gzira nearly made their pressure count when a Maxuell header finished in the back of the net before officials adjudged the player offside.

Gzira were at it again four minutes later but Zebbug goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi was on point to block a Toni Kolega first-time volley.

Miscommunication in defence on 25 minutes, however, gave Gzira a golden opportunity to open the score when Maxuell was tripped inside the area, referee Darryl Agius pointing to the spot. The Brazilian made no mistake to put his side ahead.

It was all Gzira by the half-hour, Steve Pisani going close to making it two but his angled effort flew just wide.

After the break, much of play remained the same with the Maroons looking the most likely to score the next goal. In spite of this, barely any effort on either side was enough to threaten the two goalkeepers.

Goalkeeper Azzopardi was however put on the spot on 75 minutes when a Gzira counterattack led to a throughball from newly brought-on substituted Ricardo Correa Duarte to Toni Kolega whose shot was blocked by the Zebbug shotstopper. 

Gzira tried to close off the game again late on through efforts by Marcelo Dias but Azzopardi kept up an impressive performance to try and maintain the low score. However, he could do nothing to stop another Maxuell penalty with four minutes to go as Gzira held on until the final whistle.

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