Rainbows boost top-six hopes
Tarxien Rainbows 4
Bueno 39 pen; Anonam 50; Andrezinho 60, Evaldo 67
Ħamrun Spartans 1
Tarxien boosted their prospects of Championship Pool football with a 4-1 win over Ħamrun Spartans that lifted them to fourth place in the Premier League standings.
The Spartans floundered in the face of Danilo’s flair and attacking pace but it was Orosco Anonam who provided steel and vision in midfield that helped Clive Mizzi’s troops pull in the same direction and condemn his opponents to a fifth consecutive league defeat.
The Rainbows have 24 points to their credit, two more than Mosta who are not in action until Monday when they play Sliema.
Ħamrun, on their part, are third-from-bottom and their hopes of a top-six finish look all but doomed.
Stefan Sultana, the Ħamrun coach, effected one change from Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Valletta in the U*Bet FA Trophy, Angel Yoshev replacing defender Adrain Borg.
The Spartans opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation with Ryan Spiteri, Daniel Zerafa and Gianluca Calabretta operating behind the towering Terence Vella.
Mizzi’s starting XI showed three changes from the 1-0 loss to Birkirkara as Roderick Bajada was preferred to David Fenech, Karl Pulo replaced Mark Tanti while Danilo had the onus of leading their forward line in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Anonam anchoring the midfield.
The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of former national stadium manager George Micallef who passed away earlier this week.
Ħamrun took less than seven minutes to fashion their first chance when Massimo Grima hit one of his trademark free-kicks from distance but the ball finished just wide.
The Reds continued to show the better football. Three minutes later, Justin Grioli was forced to make a well-timed intervention to prevent Calabretta from reaching the ball just in front of David Cassar, the Tarxien goalkeeper.
Danilo’s speed was creating great problems to the Reds midfielders. In the 23rd minute, the Brazilian made his way into the area with some deft footwork but his effort was blocked by Andrea Cassar.
The Spartans broke the stalemate two minutes later, another free-kick by Grima scrambled through the Tarxien defence and Roderick Fenech’s shot took a deflection off Evaldo before rolling into the net.
But Tarxien did stage an immediate reaction and a minute later, Daniel Mariano Bueno rattled the underside of the bar with Cassar beaten, the ball bounced apparently just over the line before it was cleared by Adrian Ivanov.
Referee Glenn Tonna was certain that the ball did not cross the line and waved play on but TV replays suggested otherwise.
The Rainbows seized the moment and racked up the pressure on the Spartans defence.
After 39 minutes, Anonam burst clear before releasing Danilo who was upended in the area by Fenech. From the ensuing spot-kick, Bueno sent Cassar the wrong way.
Five minutes into the second half, Mizzi’s troops snatched the lead. Lax marking in the Ħarmun box gifted Tarxien their second goal, Anonam was left unmarked as he rose to meet Andrezinho’s corner to head home.
On the hour mark, Andrea Cassar moved off his line to cut Danilo down just outside the box. The referee only showed him a yellow card but there was no reprieve from the resulting free-kick as Andrezinho’s swerving shot gave Cassar no chance.
Seven minutes later, Evaldo heaped more misery on the Spartans when he scrambled the ball home from a goal-mouth melee.
In the final minutes, the two teams ran out of steam but the Rainbows had long secured the points.
Tarxien: D. Cassar-5, Evaldo-6.5, J. Grioli-6.5 (73 S. Sadowski), R. Bajada-6, Danilo-7, Andrezinho-6.5 (76 A. Agius), K. Pulo-5.5, R. Sammut-6, D M. Bueno-7, O. Anonam-8, S. Bonnici-6.
Hamrun: A. Cassar-6, A. Ivanov-4.5 (69 G. Azzopardi-4), L.Vitanov-, R. Fenech-5.5, A. Vergilov-5 (64 D. Camilleri), D. Zerafa-5 (61 L. Grech-4), M. Grima-6, A. Yoshev-5, G. Calabretta-4.5, R. Spiteri-4.5, T. Vella-4.
Referee: Glenn Tonna.
Yellow Cards Bonnici, Bueno, Fenech, Vergilov, A. Cassar, Sammut.
BOV Player of the match: Andrezinho (Tarxien Rainbows).