Newly-promoted Żebbuġ Rangers earned their first three points as they scored twice in the second half to beat Santa Lucia 2-0 on Saturday at the Centenary Stadium.
It was a deserved win for Brian Spiteri’s side after losing their first two matches despite quite encouraging performances. On the other hand, Santa Lucia suffered the third defeat in as many matches and are therefore still anchored at the bottom of the table without any points.
Sta Lucia had one change from the team which lost to Balzan as Diego Francarolli Pacheco replaced Reo Saito. Żebbuġ, on the other hand, welcomed back Leandro Almeida after serving a one-match ban. Randall Vella was included as a substitute late in the game.
The Rangers were the better side in the early stages and after just six minutes, Charles Lokoli Ngoy concluded a good run on the left flank with a low pass but there was no one to connect to. On 17 minutes, Lokoli Ngoy concluded just wide off a Stefan Jankovic cross from the right and five minutes later, Żebbuġ threatened with a Roberto Sanchez freekick which ended just over the bar.
Goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi performed a good save on a Miguel Alba corner on 28 minutes and four minutes later, Santa Lucia went close with a Francisco Rodrigues Farias header off a corner from the right.
Two minutes from the end of the first half, Alba delivered a corner from the left and Diego Francarolli Pacheco’s header was neutralised by the Żebbuġ custodian, aided by the upright.
Żebbuġ forged ahead two minutes in the second half. Lokoli Ngoy pounced on a pass by goalkeeper Azzopardi and dashed past Michael Johnson and Jurgen Pisani, hitting low past goalkeeper Dylan Ciappara.
The Rangers continued to hold the initiative and on 62 minutes, a diagonal shot by Stefan Jankovic from the right ended just wide.
Sta Lucia tried to react but were finding it difficult to penetrate the Żebbuġ rear-guard. One minute from time, they had an appeal for a penalty turned down by referee Emanuel Grech after Pacheco ended on the ground when challenged by the goalkeeper.
Five minutes in added time, Żebbuġ sealed the issue with a second goal. Lokoli Ngoy provided the assist from the right and substitute Miguel Perez Jimenez placed the ball at the back of the net.
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 2
Lokoli Ngoy 47’, Perez 90+5’
STA LUCIA 0
ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS J. Azzopardi-6, S. Bugeja-6, L. Almeida-6, W. Santos-6, Y. Tonna-6 (81’ R. Vella), S. Jankovic-6.5 (90’ G. Gesualdi), C. Lokoli Ngoy-7, R. Sanchez-6, A. Soto-6 (81’ A. Mizzi), S. Miloskovic-6 (81’ M. Perez), K. Bondin-6 (72’ J. Sciberras).
STA LUCIA D. Ciappara-5.5, T. Rier-5.5 (39’ M. Johnson-5.5), R. Bairam-5.5, M. Valpoort-6 (72’ E. Moreno), L. Ayad-6, D. Pacheco-6.5, D. Xuereb-6, J. Pisani-5.5, F. Rodrigues-6, J. Zerafa-5.5 (46’ Z. Jie-6), M. Alba-6.5.
Referee: Emanuel Grech
Yellow Card: M. Valpoort
BOV Player of the Match: Charles Lokoli Ngoy (Żebbuġ)