Two penalties pave way for Gzira victory
Zebbug Rangers 0 Gzira United 2
11th December 2022, Tony Bezzina Stadium, Paola
Gzira returned to winning ways in Match Day 13, after their losses last week against Balzan in the league and against Inter in the international friendly. Gzira United beat Zebbug Rangers in their last first round fixture, thanks to two justified penalties, scored by Maxwell Maia, one in each half.
This win has moved the Maroons up to joint second place with Birkirkara, nine points from leaders Hamrun Spartans, pending also the result of the Hibs match.
Gzira had control of possession for much of the match with Zebbug trying to contain as much as possible Gzira's attacking pressure. Gzira created a number of scoring opportunities, while Zebbug tried to operate with counter attacks but their attempts on Gzira's goal were scare.
The match kicked off at 11.30am. This was Gzira United's first morning fixture in a number of years since they last played in the lower echelons of Maltese football.
The match started with both teams studying each other. The first chances were created by Gzira. with Riascos and Scerri having two attempts on Zebbug’s goal in the 8th and 17th minutes respectively. Subsequently the referee stopped a counterattack by Zebbug for a suspected offside, amid the protests of the Zebbug players.
On the 19th minute a goal by Gzira’s Maia was ruled out for offside. In the 21st minute Zebbug created their only chance of the half with Lokoli’s cross from within Gzira’s penalty area being safely intercepted by Gzira’s goalkeeper Zarkov.
Gzira’s first attempt on target was on the 22nd minute when a cross by Diaz was met by a shot by Kolega which was turned to a corner.
On the 28th minute Maia juggled his way into Zebbug’s penalty area but was bundled down by Zebbug’s Bugeja. Maia tucked in easily the spot kick to put Gzira in the lead.
On the 32nd minute a shot by Gzira’s Pisani flew just wide past the post, while the half closed with a cross by Dias of Gzira in the 43rd minute just missed by Maia.
The start of the second half followed the same pattern of the first half, with Gzira being the most likely team to score. Gzira, had a number of attempts on Zebbug’s goal in the 58th,70th and 73rd minutes but with no real danger.
In the 75th minute Gzira had their first attempt on target in the second half. A through-ball by Correa Duarte was met by Kolega but his shot was well saved by Zebbug’s shotstopper Azzopardi. In the 77th minute Correa Duarte had his own shot on target well saved by the Zebbug keeper, while a swift one two in the 81st minute between Gzira’s Dias and Correa was well intercepted. In the 83rd minute, Scerri of Gzira had his shot on target neutralised.
All this Gzira pressure was a prelude to the second goal by the Maroons. Brooklyn Borg was floored by Gzira keeper Azzopardi, after dashing into the penalty area. The referee pointed immediately to the spot. Maia turned up for his second penalty and with great confidence placed it into the net to make the score two nil, putting the match out of sight of Zebbug Rangers.
The final minutes of additional time were played out, seeing Gzira United earning a well-earned victory and closing off the first round on a positive note. Now the Maroons turn their attention to close off the year with another positive result in their next outing against Santa Lucia, which match, kicks off the Second Round of the Championship.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH:Maxuell Maia
61’ Brooklyn Borg in for Steven Pisani
74’ Ricardo Correa Duarte in for Clive Gauci
88’ Andrew Borg in for Toni Kolega
88’ Thiago Espindola in for Maxuell Maia