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Floriana sink nine-man Qormi

Floriana winger Gary Muir holds off the challenge of Leighton Grech yesterday. Photo: Chris Sant FournierFloriana winger Gary Muir holds off the challenge of Leighton Grech yesterday. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Floriana 3
Coronado 16; Muir 82 pen; Diogo 83;
Qormi 0

A stop-start encounter conjured up a nervy finale.

A goal to the good thanks to Igor Coronado’s first-half strike, Floriana were finding it difficult to knock the fight out of Qormi who relied heavily on Alfred Effiong to pose a threat as his attacking colleagues were short of inspiration.

The balance swayed decidedly in Floriana’s favour when defender Owen Bugeja was dismissed after collecting two yellow cards in the space of two minutes.

Still, the Greens were unable to extract instant advantage as Qormi battled on. But, when referee Clayton Pisani brandished the red card for a second time to expel Qormi goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia the game was as good as over as the Greens struck twice in quick succession to rubberstamp their victory.

While Floriana celebrated a valuable win that catapulted them above a host of other contenders for the Championship Pool, the Qormi fans hurled a torrent of abuse at the referee as he headed for the dressing room.

Qormi’s grievances about the referee’s decisions aside, their performance yesterday had left a lot to be desired. They were not lacking in fighting spirit but they looked an ordinary side for much of the match and their foreign players, with the exception of Effiong, are contributing very little.

By contrast, Floriana’s foreigners are making the difference as Coronado was a thorn in the side of Qormi’s defence, Brazilian Diogo was full of creativity in midfield and Nigerian Ibok Edet reigned supreme at the back.

Edet, back from suspension, resumed his defensive duties but Gary Roberts was nowhere to be seen after Floriana parted with the unsettled English midfielder on the eve of the game.

Floriana coach Ian Dawes kept faith with his attacking philosophy as the creative Christian Caruana played in the hole with Igor Coronado and Steve Pisani forming a two-pronged forward line in a 4-3-1-2 formation.

Tommaso Volpi gave a debut to 27-year-old defender Marco Petrassi.

In the initial minutes, Effiong released Grech who advanced menacingly towards goal but his lob was blocked by the Floriana defence.

Floriana enjoyed an almighty scare on seven minutes when Effiong looked certain to score as he ladled the ball over the on-rushing Daniel Hanford but his effort grazed the far post.

It was the Greens who broke the stalemate on 15 minutes. Gary Muir was the provider as his low pass squirmed into the path of Coronado who swivelled before hitting a low shot that had the better of Farrugia, the Qormi goalkeeper.

Qormi’s timid reaction failed to produce any tangible opportunities.

At the other end, Floriana appealed for a penalty when Chistian Caruana ended on the turf after being challenged by Jonathan Bondin but referee Clayton Pisani waved play on.

Close to the half-hour, Roderick Bajada’s cross from a corner triggered a goalmouth scramble but Qormi failed to take advantage.

After Coronado skewed his shot high and wide, the Greens had a good chance to double their lead eight minutes from half-time when Christian Caruana’s inviting cross soared across the face of goal but Diogo failed to make contact.

Hanford blocked a central header from Effiong who had got on the end of Innocenti’s set-piece cross.

The game livened up. In next to no time, Qormi were caught out as Floriana broke forward on the counter. Coronado set up Pisani but the latter spurned the chance as his careless finish was easily saved by Farrugia.

Four minutes from half-time, Diogo made a scorching run, going infield from the left before unleashing an angled drive that whizzed past the far post.

The second half was off to a subdued start before Qormi won a free-kick after Scicluna clattered into Santaguida just outside the box. Triston Caruana’s effort was too central to trouble Hanford.

Eighteen minutes into the second half, Diogo split the Qormi defence with an excellent pass towards Coronado but the Brazilian took a touch too many and Petrassi nipped in to clear the danger.

A stop-start match grew fractious as the second half progressed.

Qormi’s comeback hopes receded when, 19 minutes from time, defender Owen Bugeja, yesterday facing his former team, was expelled after a late charge on Borg.

And Qormi’s predicament deepened when goalkeeper Farrugia was shown a straight red card by referee Pisani for hauling down substitute Luca Casha in the box. Gary Muir drove his shot past the incoming Steve Sultana.

That was not the end of it as Diogo put Floriana 3-0 up after exchanging balls with Caruana.

Floriana
D. Hanford-6, A. Scicluna-5.5, I. Edet-7.5, S. Pisani-5.5 (64 L. Casha-6), C. Caruana-7, I. Coronado-6.5 (85 G. Tabone), D. Pinheiro-6.5 (84 G. Favero), C. Borg-6, B. Farrugia-6, G. Muir-6, S. Borg-6.

Qormi
M. Farrugia, A. Effiong-7, R. Sammut-5, L. Grech-5.5, R. Bajada-5.5, T. Caruana-5, O. Bugeja, J. Bondin-5.5 (32 D. Pisani-5), R. Innocenti-4 (81 S. Sultana), M. Petrassi-6, F. Santaguida-5 (73 L.Gabrieli).

Referee: Clayton Pisani.

Yellow cards: Edet; Effiong; Scicluna; B. Farrugia; Bugeja.

Red cards: Bugeja (Q) 71; M. Farrugia (Q) 79.

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

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