Revitalised Qormi halt Tarxien
Siritto 49; Pisani 87;
Tarxien Rainbows 1
Qormi still face an uphill struggle to claw their way back into contention for a top-six berth but hopes of a revival have increased after this deserved win over Tarxien.
Buoyed by their last-gasp draw against Birkirkara, Qormi produced a spirited performance to overpower the Rainbows who had collected 10 points from their last four games.
Tarxien’s positive run of late had reignited their Championship Pool but yesterday Clive Mizzi’s ensemble showed little of the hunger and determination that fuelled their resurgence. Not so can be said of Qormi who moved through the gears in the second half to surge into a two-goal lead before coming through a tense finale.
On the back of Tarxien’s 3-1 victory over Rabat, many probably presumed that Mizzi would retain the same team but he elected to make three changes.
Evaldo, back from suspension, Carlo Mamo and Ryan Sammut were awarded first-team recalls with Justin Grioli, Karl Pulo and Steven Bonnici having to make do with a place on the bench.
Tarxien began in 4-1-4-1 fashion with Bueno and Andrezinho playing either side of Danilo.
The one-match ban incurred by winger Joseph Chetcuti meant that Qormi coach Jesmond Zerafa could not name the same line-up that started the previous match.
Leighton Grech replaced Chetcuti while Sebastiano Siritto deputised for Vincenzo Pisani in what appeared to be a last-minute change.
Siritto was the most advanced player in a 4-2-3-1 formation which had Grech and Bartolo deployed out wide and Abubakar Bello-Osagie pushing through the middle.
Mamo’s comeback lasted only a few minutes as the former Marsaxlokk left-back again fell victim to injury. His place was taken by Steve Sadowski.
The first noteworthy chance fell Qormi’s way after 11 minutes.
The move originated from Bello-Osagie who made headway on the right before slipping a through-ball to Siritto who strode into the box but keeper Nicky Vella threw his body in the way of the Qormi forward’s effort.
Persistence on Danilo’s part almost produced an opener for Tarxien as the Brazilian pounced on a short clearance by Luke Sciberras but his rising shot went wide.
On 26 minutes, Bueno advanced on the left before arrowing an inviting cross into the six-yard box where Andrezinho outjumped his marker but his header was off target.
The early stages were generally balanced.
Qormi would have taken the lead but for a crucial intervention from Sammut at the near post.
Grech had initiated the move with a typical surging run down the right before picking out the unmarked Bello-Osagie with a precise pass. The Nigerian flicked past Vella but his pass towards Siritto was cut out by Sammut.
Zerafa’s men suddenly worked up a head of steam.
Bello-Osagie volleyed over after two attempts by Bartolo had caused confusion in the Tarxien box.
At the other end, Bueno’s grounder trickled past the post and Evaldo’s free-kick sailed over.
Tarxien were reliant on their attacking Brazilian trio to create openings. That was in evidence when, on the verge of half-time, Andrezinho bore down on goal through the middle before releasing Bueno who ran himself into a tight position and his final cross found no takers.
At the start of the second half, Mizzi brought on Pulo for David Fenech.
It was Qormi who broke the stalemate four minutes into the second half. Trading passes with Bello-Osagie, Siritto accelerated into the box and prodded past Vella.
Tarxien were having trouble to contain Zarate’s marauding runs from midfield.
Zerafa had to make a second substitution after Bartolo was carried off on a stretcher. Gabriel Buttigieg came on for the former Sliema winger.
A devastating breakaway by Tarxien ought to have brought an equaliser on 65 minutes.
Receiving a pass from Bueno deep into the Rainbows’ half, Danilo turned adroitly before directing a pass to Andrezinho who instantly served the advancing Pulo but the Tarxien sub hit badly with only Matthew Farrugia to beat.
Unfazed by that miss, Tarxien now sallied forward with a sense of renewed urgency. Farrugia denied Tarxien when keeping out Andrezinho’s first-timer from Roderick Bajada’s pass.
Evaldo’s free-kick was high before the Brazilian made way for fellow countryman Luiz Romulo De Castro 13 minutes from time.
As the game sauntered into its last 10 minutes, Mizzi hurled caution to the wind, switching to 4-2-4.
However, his decision backfired as, three minutes from the end, Qormi put the game to bed.
Grech, an enterprising figure for his team, sprinted into the box and cut the ball back for Pisani who slotted home.
Tarxien looked down and out even though Bueno had headed home from Andrezinho’s free-kick to cut the leeway.
M. Farrugia-6, K. Thackray-6, R. Sammut-6.5, M. Bartolo-6 (56 G. Buttigieg-5.5), S. Siritto-6.5 (69 V. Pisani-6), A. Bello-Osagie-7, L. Sciberras-6.5, M. Gauci-6, Edison Zarate-7.5, J. Bondin-6.5, L. Grech-7.
N. Vella-5, C. Mamo (6 S. Sadowski-5.5), M. Caruana-6, Evaldo-6 (77 L.R. De Castro), R. Bajada-5, Danilo-5, Andrezinho-6.5, R. Sammut-6, D.M. Bueno-6, D. Fenech-5.5 (46 K. Pulo-5), O. Anonam-6.
Referee: Andre Arciola.
Yellow cards: Gauci; Evaldo; Andrezinho; Bello-Osagie; Danilo.
BOV player of the match: Edison Zarate (Qormi).