Sta Lucia’s Dutch defender Yoel Soares Fonseca inadvertently boosted Marsaxlokk’s hopes of avoiding the drop by scoring a last-minute own goal in his side’s 1-0 defeat at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.
It was a cruel blow for the Saints who had their promising moments, with Robert Hehedosh and Yevhenii Terzi seeing efforts brilliantly kept out by Marsaxlokk goalkeeper Marko Drobnjak.
Relief was etched on the face of Marsaxlokk coach Pablo Doffo as the final whistle blew after an unconvincing performance.
On 24 minutes, Leandro Aguirre swung over a dangerous cross which was retrieved by Kristian Keqi who squared for Juan Aguilar. The Argentine defender, however, shot high over the bar.
Vincenzo Potenza’s decision to field a side full of attacking intent with Terzi, Franciso Farias, and Ayad Bah supporting Hehedosch up front, soon began to pay dividends.
Past the half-hour mark, Dexter Xuereb volleyed wide from Robert Bairam’s long ball.
Aguirre responded for Marsaxlokk with a long-range free-kick which forced a fine save from Matthew Calleja Cremona.
Sta Lucia’s best chances of the first period fell the way of Hehedosh, who first got himself in a mess trying to deal with Bah’s searching diagonal ball into the box.
Then, the Ukrainian striker squandered a fine breakaway chance for Sta Lucia when Terzi headed Yoel Soares’s long punt into his direction but Hehedosh’s low drive was saved by Drobnjak.
On 50 minutes, Hehedosh looked out of sorts for Sta Lucia when he wasted a good chance to put the Blacks ahead. The striker was unlucky to see a goalbound chip over Drobnjak finishing wide.
As the Saints’ dominance continued in the early stages of the second half, they created another good chance.
Past the hour mark, Farias outsmarted his marker Oscar Carniello on the left flank but saw his shot deflected just over.
On 69 minutes, Jurgen Pisani and Keqi tangled as the pair chased a cross from Aguirre at the far post but the Italian striker appealed in vain for a penalty.
At the other end, Terzi saw his effort blocked by Drobnjak after being set up by the excellent run from Bairam.
However, that was the cue for Fonseca’s embarrassment. The Dutch defender sliced an attempted long shot from Carniello over the head of his goalkeeper Calleja Cremona.
Still, under shock, Soares Fonseca diverted a ball into the path of substitute Vamara Sanago who hit a rasping shot against the crossbar.
SANTA LUCIA 0
Soares Fonseca 90og
SANTA LUCIA M. Calleja Cremona-6, Y. Soares-4, N. Pulis-5.5, R. Bairam-5.5, A. Bah-6 (74 J. Tanti), D. Xuereb-6.5 (84 J. Carbone), J. Pisani-6, F. Farias-7, R. Soares-6, Y. Terzi-5.5 (84 K. Nwoko), R. Hehedosh-6.
MARSAXLOKK M. Drobnajk-6.5, T. Vella-6, K. Keqi-7, C. Bonanni-6, P. Xuereb-6, J. Cruz Aguilar-6, O. Carniello-6, L. Aguirre-6, R. Scicluna-5, D. Agius-7 (87 D. Vukovic), T. Fonseca-4 (61 V. Sanago-6)
Referee Slobodan Petrovic.
Yellow cards Bah, Aguirre, Scicluna
BOV player of the match Francisco Farias (Sta Lucia)
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