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Hotspurs come from behind to overcome ten-man Marsaxlokk

Pieta Hotspurs skipper Daniel Zerafa tries to move past Ayrton Attard. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

MARSAXLOKK 1           

Attard 43

PIETA’ HOTSURS           2           

Hovhannisyan 45, Zerafa 70

MARSAXLOKK

M. Drobnjak-6, A. Attard-6 (66’ C. Bonanni)(74’ E. Uzeh), K. Keqi-6.5, P. Xuereb-5.5, S. Ferraris-6.5, J. Aguilar-6 (66’ T. Fonseca), O. Carniello-5.5, L. Aguirre, R. Scicluna-6, S. Moracci-6.5, D. Vukovic-5.5.

PIETA’ HOTSPURS

R. Cini-6.5, S. Okoh-6, C. Bangura-6, T. Ojo-6 (90+7’ T. Howland), D. Zerafa, J. Ghio-5.5 (62’ T. Yamaguchi), A. Hovhannisyan-6.5, K. Leonardi-6 (85’ D. Rodrigues), K. Briffa-5.5 (46’ A. Schembri Wismayer), I. Farrugia-6, Z. Leonardi-6.

Referee: Stefan Pace.

Yellow cards: Aguilar, Z. Leonardi, Bonanni, Bangura, K. Leonardi, Zerafa, Farrugia, Yamaguchi.

Red card: Aguirre (M) 24.

BOV Player of the Match: Kristian Keqi (Marsaxlokk).

Pieta’ Hotspurs maintained alive hopes of avoiding the bottom two places as they came from behind to beat ten-man Marsaxlokk 2-1.

Although Żebbuġ Rangers’ loss to Valletta meant that Marsaxlokk have secured their Premier League status, the Southseasiders went out in search of the three points and showed greater determination in the opening minutes.

However the dismissal of influential Leandro Aguirre allowed the Hotspurs to gain ground and although they conceded a goal, they equalised a few minutes later, before notching the winner during the second half.

This win puts the Hotspurs just three points behind Żebbuġ who are currently third from bottom. And with three matches to go for the end of the season, it will be a battle between Pieta’, Żebbuġ and Santa Lucia to try to take the play-off spot.

Marsaxlokk made their intentions clear right from the start and a freekick by Aguilar was blocked by Reeves Cini after just three minutes.

On 18 minutes, Aguirre delivered an inviting cross from the left but Moracci and Keqi failed to connect.

The Southseasiders were reduced to ten men on 24 minutes as Leandro Aguirre was sent off for retaliation on Daniel Zerafa.

Despite being a man down, Marsaxlokk went close three minutes later with a long-distance effort by Ryan Scicluna that ended just over.

But on the half-hour, goalkeeper Marko Drobnjak came to his team’s rescue as he blocked at point blank efforts by Temitope Ojo and Ivin Farrugia.  

Two minutes from the break, Marsaxlokk forged ahead. 

Moracci delivered a cross from the left and Ayrton Attard headed past goalkeeper Cini.

However, three minutes in added time, Pieta’ Hotspurs levelled matters thanks to Armen Hovhanniyan who beat Drobnjak with an angled shot from the left

Marsaxlokk’s Peter Xuereb (left) tries to force his way forward. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

The two teams shared the exchanges for most of the second half but on 65 minutes, Keqi received an assist on the left and served Santiago Moracci whose goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by Samuel Okoh.

However, five minutes later, the Hotspurs forged ahead.

Captain Zerafa stunned goalkeeper Drobnjak with a powerful drive which saw the ball end in the top right corner.

Four minutes from time, Marsaxlokk went close to equalising.

Keqi delivered a cross from the left but Tiago Fonseca brought the best out of Cini who managed to turn the Brazilian’s fine header into a corner.

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