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Floriana too strong for Spartans

Ħamrun Spartans 0
Floriana 2
Spiteri 35; Darmanin 87;

Floriana took the honours in the battle of Championship Pool outsiders when they overcame the challenge of Ħamrun yesterday.

Mark Spiteri and Ryan Darmanin scored the goals that lifted the Greens back in the running for a place in the top six.

However, all praise should go to Igor Coronado, Floriana’s speedy winger who masterminded his team’s victory with a five-star display.

The nippy Brazilian completely tore apart the Reds’ defence with his surging runs and excellent delivery to propel the side to a second successive victory and, more importantly, putting them in a good position to challenge for a place among the top-six elite.

The Spartans looked a disjointed lot and had it not been for their young goalkeeper Andrea Cassar they could have left with a heavier defeat.

Floriana coach Stephen Azzopardi effected three changes to the team that beat Sliema last week. Tyrone Farrugia missed out through suspension with Henrique Celestino moved into a central defensive role while Duncan Pisani replaced the injured Thomas Paris.

Trevor Cilia recovered from a knee injury and started in a central midfield position alongside Clyde Borg who replaced the unfit Brooke Farrugia.

Ħamrun effected two changes from the team that lost 3-2 to Balzan last week.

Nikolai Bozhov started upfront in tandem with Terence Vella with midfielder Lyubomir Vitanov only winning a place on the substitutes bench.

The opening exchanges provided very little opportunities and we had to wait until the 25th minute for the first scoring chance.

Floriana shouted penalty after Trevor Cilia’s shot came off Angel Yoshev with the Greens claiming the ball hit the arm of the Spartans’ right-back.

However, the referee ruled out the penalty claims.

Four minutes later Aman Verma stole the ball from David Camilleri and unleashed a powerful drive that flew just over the bar.

The Greens continued to pile the pressure and on the half-hour Coronado sent a dangerous cross-shot that was not cleared by Anton Vergilov with the ball falling into the path of Spiteri who fired over.

Floriana forged ahead ten minutes from the break. The goal came from a corner when Coronado sent a cross towards the near post where Spiteri was on hand to head into the net.

The Spartans finally threatened a minute later courtesy of a long-range shot from Massimo Grima that was blocked in two attempts by Tony Warner, the Floriana goalkeeper.

Floriana kept pushing forward, however, and on 40 minutes Cassar did well to keep out Darmanin’s piledriver.

On the change of ends, Spartans coach Sultana withdrew Camilleri and roped in Christian Cassar who was facing the Greens for the first time since he left them in summer.

However, it was Floriana who remained in charge of the proceedings and on 53 minutes Cassar did well to block Coronado’s shot in two attempts.

Five minutes later, it was the turn of Darmanin to test Cassar but his stinging drive flashed wide while Cilia also tried his luck from the distance but the alert Spartans goalkeeper was up to the task.

Two minutes past the hour, the Greens almost made it 2-0 when in a quick counter-break, the enterprising Coronado released Spiteri who was denied by the onrushing Cassar.

Coronado then showed great skill to move past two defenders before firing a low drive that whizzed past the upright with Cassar beaten.

The duel between Cassar and Coronado continued when the latter’s shot was repelled by the goalkeeper with the ball hitting Vergilov, but luckily for the Spartans, the ball rolled out of play.

Cassar effected another superb save seven minutes from time when he pulled off a point-blank save on Darmanin following a Spiteri delivery.

But, Floriana all but sealed the points two minutes from time when from a Verma corner, Darmanin was first to the ball to head firmly past Cassar.

Ħamrun Spartans
A. Cassar-7.5, A. Ivanov-5, A. Yoshev-5, R. Fenech-6, A. Vergilov-5, D. Zerafa-5.5 (82 G. Azzopardi), M. Grima-5, D. Camilleri-4.5 (46 C. Cassar-5), N. Bozhov-5 (80 L. Grech), R. Spiteri-5, T. Vella-4.5.

Floriana
T. Warner-6, K. Farrugia-6, T. Cilia-6 (69 J. Borg-6), A. Verma-6.5, M. Spiteri-6.5, I. Coronado-7.5 (85 S. Wasiu), D. Pisani-6, R. Darmanin-7, H. Celestino-6, C. Borg-6 (88 F. Guzman), S. Borg-6.

Referee: Malcolm Spiteri.

Yellow cards: C. Borg, Ivanov.

BOV Player of the match: Igor Coronado (Floriana).

Attendance: 602.

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