Sliema reach top-six goal
HAMRUN SPARTANS-0, SLIEMA WANDERERS-2
Sliema Wanderers claimed the sixth and final place in this season's Championship Pool after beating Hamrun Spartans 2-0 in today's opening match.
After Mosta sealed their top-six objective on Friday, Sliema knew they had to win to reach their target and they did what was expected of them after easily disposing of a poor Spartans side who have now lost their last three league games.
Argentine Matias Muchardi was Sliema's hero as he rounded off a fine performance with a brace.
Inside the opening three minutes, Sliema captain Alex Muscat cut inside from the left but his shot was wide.
Sliema enjoyed more possession but their efforts failed to yield an opener in the first 25 minutes as their final pass often went astray.
Josef Mifsud headed over from Ian Zammit's free-kick and, at the other end, Massimo Grima's free-kick for Hamrun sailed high.
The Wanderers took a deserved lead eight minutes from half-time when Muscat, making another diagonal run from the inside-left channel, drove to the byline before pulling the back for Matias Muchardi who fired home.
Before the end of the first half, Sliema threatened again when Zammit had time and space to shoot inside the box but his strike was parried away by Anthony Curmi, the Spartans goalkeeper.
Low-key for much of the first half, Hamrun came close early in the second when Ayrton Micallef, who had just come on for debutant Cesar Catalan, hit the crossbar with a cross-cum-shot.
With the Spartans desperately short of flair, Sliema quickly regained the initiative.
Curmi, the Spartans goalkeeper, kept Sliema at bay with two fine saves to push away curling efforts from Shaun Bajada, the first from a free-kick and the second from a corner.
With 16 minutes remaining, Curmi again did well to beat away Ivan Woods's fierce drive. Zammit headed home from the rebound but the Sliema striker was offside.
Sliema's efforts produced a deserved second goal eight minutes from time when Muchardi slotted past Curmi after being put through by Zammit.
Muchardi was named BOV player of the match.