Floriana edged Santa Lucia 1-0 at the Centenary Stadium courtesy of a late penalty scored by Oualid El Hasni after a dominant performance which could have given the Greens an even greater margin of victory if it weren’t for the heroics of Saints goalkeeper Matthew Calleja Cremona.
Floriana, after beating Żebbuġ last weekend, was looking to continue on their positive run but needed more than just a point to get past Marsaxlokk who drew to Pieta’ Hotspurs earlier, against a struggling Santa Lucia side.
The latter was coming from a scoreless draw against fellow strugglers Sirens.
Floriana’s Gianluca Atzori fielded a largely similar squad to the team’s win against Żebbuġ, replacing suspended Fernando Juarez and Carlo Zammit Lonardelli with Kyrian Nwoko and Emiliano Callegari.
On the other hand, new Santa Lucia coach Vincenzo Potenza put faith in Calleja Cremona between the sticks despite Dylan Ciappara’s impressive performance against Sirens.
Dexter Xuereb played instead of Liam Mckay who was relegated to the bench and Zvi Jie replaced Erick Serna.
The match had a quick start when Kemar Reid hit from distance after four minutes but Calleja Cremona stretched to collect.
Santa Lucia replied with a Diego Pacheco effort which went well over.
Five minutes later, Aleandro Garzia missed a golden chance when from a cross, his first-timed effort on the right flew wide.
At this point, it was all going their way with goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov having nothing much to do.
Reid had the first chance after the break on 57 minutes but his header inside the area flew over. Three minutes later, a through-ball from Nwoko provided one of the best chances of the game but Garzia’s effort went just past the goal.
On 64 minutes, Calleja Cremona came to his side’s rescue, blocking another Reid effort from close range.
Farias replied for Santa Lucia three minutes later but his shot was too wide.
At 75 minutes, Calleja Cremona was once again his team’s saviour after he parried away a pinpoint shot from Jan Busuttil.
Late in the game, an unnecessary trample from Pacheco on Reid inside the area during a corner led to referee Slobodan Petrovic pointing to the spot.
El Hasni made no mistake in putting the ball past Calleja Cremona and securing the points for Floriana.
El Hasni 83 pen.
SANTA LUCIA 0
G. Kitanov-5, O. El Hasni-7, K. Reid-7.5 (88 E. Hershkovich), U. Arias-6 (88 C. Zammit Lonardelli), O. Spiteri-5.5, K. Nwoko 7 (70 A. Ciolacu), L. De Grazia-6, L. Trillo-6.5 (70 Z. Cassar), E. Callegari-6, J. Busuttil-6.5, A. Garzia-7 (76 Magri Overend).
M. Calleja Cremona-8, N. Pulis-6 (68 J. Tanti), R. Bairam-5.5 (53 R. Saito), M. Valpoort-6, L. Blie-6 (88 J. Carbone), D. Pacheco-5.5, D. Xuereb-5, J. Pisani-6, R. Farias-6.5, Z. Jie-5 (53 M. Johnson).
Referee Slobodan Petrovic.
Yellow cards Bairam, Farias, Calleja Cremona, Pisani, Xuereb.
BOV Player of the Match Matthew Calleja Cremona (Santa Lucia).
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