ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 1
GŻIRA UNITED 0
H. Bonello-6, E. Domingos-6.5, S. Borg-6.5, M. Guillaumier-6 (89 R. Callegari), E. Mashike-6 (88 C. Barbosa), R. Prsa-6 (73 J. Mbong), K. Holmberg-5.5 (66 L. Montebello), O. Bjelicic-6, J. Corbalan-6, E. Marcelina-6.5, R. Camenzuli-6.5.
D. Zarkov-6, L. Tabone-6.5, N. Muscat-6.5, Z. Scerri-6 (88’ B. Borg), M. Dias-6, L. Ribeiro-6, L. Riascos-5.5, T. Kolega-6 (88 T. Espindola), M. Cosic-6, J. De Assis-6 (74 M. Maia), J. Mendoza-6 (88 A. Borg).
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri.
Yellow card: L. Riascos.
BOV Player of the Match: Emerson Marcelina (Ħamrun Spartans).
Ħamrun Spartans were crowned champions as a late goal by Luke Montebello handed them a narrow win over Gżira United.
Although a draw would have sufficed the Spartans to secure the ninth title in the history of the club and a second in three years, they still managed to take home the three points to extend further the lead at the top the BOV Premier League.
As expected, the two teams shared the exchanges for long stretches and judging the few goal scoring opportunities created throughout the 90 minutes, the game seemed heading for a goalless draw until the Spartans finally notched the winner to the delight of the hundreds of club fans that thronged the National Stadium.
For the Maroons, this was their second defeat on the trot and have a fight on their hands to secure a top-three finish and a place in European football next summer.
Gżira were forced to make a last-minute change as Jackson Mendoza replaced Gabriel Bohrer who was set to start while Luis Riascos and Lucas Ribeiro were preferred to Ewertton Costa and Maxuell Maia.
Ħamrun, on the other hand, had two changes as they welcomed back Steve Borg and Roko Prsa with Dodo and Joseph Mbong starting on the bench.
The Maroons had the first attempt at goal after just four minutes when Jefferson delivered a cross from the right but Lucas Ribeiro headed wide from close range.
Ħamrun replied with a freekick from the right by Roko Prsa which was headed into a corner by Nikolai Muscat on nine minutes.
On 18 minutes, Elvis Mashike managed to enter the area but his angled shot was blocked into a corner by Zarkov. Seven minutes later, Ederson managed to serve Mashike inside the area and the latter chested the ball before trying his luck with an acrobatic shot that was neutralised by the Gżira custodian.
Four minutes into the second half, Henry Bonello blocked a Muscat freekick from the left.
At the other end of the pitch, Zarkov blocked a freekick by Prsa from the right on 54 minutes.
Three minutes later, Mendoza sent Jefferson through on the left and the latter’s diagonal shot was parried by the Ħamrun goalkeeper.
On 65 minutes, Marcelo Dias delivered a cross from the right but Ribeiro’s header was saved without particular difficulty by Bonello.
Substitute Maxuell Maia missed an incredible opportunity to put the Maroons ahead on 77 minutes after receiving a through ball by Mendoza but with the open goal at his mercy, the Brazilian forward’s angled shot ended just wide.
The Maroons paid dearly for this miss as four minutes later, Ħamrun took the lead.
Joseph Mbong served Mashike on the right and off the latter’s assist, Luke Montebello slotted the ball past goalkeeper Darijan Zarkov.
In added time, Gżira could have equalised when off a Nikolai Muscat corner, the ball was deflected to reach Lucas Ribeiro whose close-range effort was blocked by Bonello into another corner.
At the final whistle, the Ħamrun Spartans fans exploded in a roar of celebrations as the players and officials kickstarted their title party that was eventually transferred to the main street of their locality.
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