Avila-Perez winner keeps Qormi alive
Tarxien Rainbows 1
Effiong 54; Avila-Perez 90;
Moises-Avila Perez came off the bench to strike a last-gasp winner and propel Qormi to a dramatic victory over Tarxien Rainbows that keeps their slim hopes of a top-six place alive.
This was a balanced affair with the Rainbows holding a slight edge in the opening 45 minutes and Andrezinho giving them a deserved lead just before the half-time break.
However, Qormi came back strongly and after levelling matters through Alfred Effiong, they took the game to their opponents and grabbed a ‘stunning’ second goal that left them with an outside chance of breaking into the Cham-pionship Pool.
Effiong was handed his full debut by Zerafa who effected three changes from the team that figured in a goalless draw with Floriana.
Effiong started as the team’s chief striker ahead of Avila-Perez. Alessio Cassar and Edison Bilboa Zarate were back in the team as Matthew Bartolo and Leighton Grech had to be content with a place on the bench.
Carlo Mamo was a welcome addition to Tarxien as the winger was back after a long spell on the sidelines due to injury.
Mamo filled the void left by Justin Grioli (suspended).
Qormi threatened first after eight minutes. Effiong forced his way through but his run was halted by Steve Bonnici. The ball fell into the path of Zarate whose shot was stopped by Tarxien goalkeeper David Cassar.
The Rainbows hit back with an Andrezinho free-kick, Steve Bonnici leaping high but directed his header wide.
Tarxien lost Roderick Bajada through injury but on 23 minutes they threatened again when Leandro ran clear but with only Matthew Farrugia to beat he chipped the ball over the bar.
The woodwork then denied Tarxien as Bueno dispossessed Stephen Wellman with the ball finishing into the path of Andrezinho who fired a low shot that beat Farrugia but came off the upright.
Tarxien remained the better side and their supremacy was rewarded with a fine opener one minute before half-time. They were awarded a free-kick from which Andrezinho curled his shot past Qormi’s defensive wall and into the back of the net.
Qormi looked a different lot after the break and their efforts were rewarded as on 54 minutes Joseph Chetcuti released Effiong and the Nigerian hit a firm drive past Cassar to level matters.
The Rainbows knew that victory would have taken them closer to the Championship Pool but Effiong’s goal hit them hard and they lost all their early momentum.
Mizzi was forced to make a second change as Orosco Anonam was unable to continue as Zerafa was clearly determined to take all points. He withdrew the tiring Bello-Osagie and roped in Avila-Perez.
Tarxien almost regained the lead 17 minutes from time when Bueno’s cross was destined to reach the unmarked Tanti but Thackray intercepted in time.
At the other end, Avila-Perez sent in a dangerous low cross but Ryan Sammut was on hand to anticipate the goal-bound Effiong.
Avila-Perez was then denied by Cassar with a fine tipping save and as the match seemed heading to a one-all stalemate Qormi’s Spanish sub struck the winner.
The towering striker seized possession in midfield and sensing that Cassar was slightly outside his lines he tried an ambitious chip that flew past the goalkeeper and into the net for an incredible match-winning goal.
D. Cassar-5, C. Mamo-6, R. Bajada (18 A. Agius-5), Leandro-6, Andrezinho-7, R. Sammut-5, D.M. Bueno-6.5, B. Timotic-6.5, D. Fenech-6, O. Anonam-6 (64 M. Tanti-5), S. Bonnici-6 (90 C. Fenech).
M. Farrugia-6, K. Thackray-6.5, A. Effiong-7, J. Chetcuti-7, A. Bello-Osagie-6 (69 M. Avila-Perez-6.5), L. Sciberras-6, M. Gauci-6, E. Bilboa Zarate-6.5, J. Bondin-6 (78 M. Bartolo), A. Cassar-6, S. Wellman-6.5.
Referee: Mario Apap.
Yellow cards: Agius, Wellman, Anonam, Fenech, Bonnici, Sammut, Bilboa Zarate.
BOV Player of the match: Andrezinho (Tarxien Rainbows).