Xewkija Tigers made up for their disappointing performances in the championship when they lifted the GFA Knock Out trophy for Division One clubs for the second time in their history following a thrilling 4-3 win over Nadur Youngsters.
Both the Tigers and the Youngsters were looking to secure this honour to make up for their disappointment of missing out on the league title.
The match turned out to be a hard-fought encounter where the outcome remained uncertain until the dying stages of the match.
Nadur came into the match in fine fettle following excellent showings in recent league matches. They started strongly and took a deserved lead courtesy of a close-range strike by Jefferson following a corner.
Aided by this goal, the Youngsters tried to step up their pressure to try and grab a second goal that would hence, give them a more comfortable advantage but the Tigers defence looked well organised.
As the minutes passed, the Tigers came more into the picture and they restored parity six minutes from the break. Michel Camilleri connected to Claudio Antunes’ cross but his effort was somehow kept out by goalkeeper Franklin Vella. However, the Xewkija striker was quick to react and bundled the ball home from the rebound.
Nadur soon regained the initiative after the break and restored their lead on 58 minutes following a fine curling strike by Marcelo Barbosa.
Xewkija were not demoralised though and on 72 minutes they levelled the match once again through a tap-in by Camilleri following a cross by Halleson Tiago Barbosa Honorato.
The Tigers completed their comeback nine minutes from time when Antunes found the unmarked Honorato who did well to fire past Vella.
Nadur were not done yet and it looked as though they had done enough to take the match into extra-time when a Leiner Garcia Panesso’s shot was deflected onto the bar by Mark Grima and Jefferson was on hand to head home.
But there was still time for Xewkija to find a winner three minutes into stoppage time. Honorato sped into the area and hit a fine angled strike following another great pass by Antunes to the delight of the Tigers players and fans.
After the match, the Xewkija players were presented with the trophy by top officials from the Gozo FA amid the celebrations of their fans.
St Lawrence defeat Sannat in Cup final
St Lawrence Spurs won the Knock-Out competition for the second division teams after an absence of 20 years when they defeated Sannat Lions with a narrow 1-0 scoreline.
The Lions were outright favourites to win this competition as they are considered as main challengers for promotion into Gozo’s top-tier category.
But the Spurs threw the formbook out of the window, and inspired by their excellent performances of late, which have seen them unbeaten in their last four matches, managed to upstage their more-quoted opponents.
As expected, it was the Lions who tried to take control of proceedings with the Spurs showing great defensive organisation.
However, it was St Lawrence who netted what proved to be the winner on 21 minutes when Adrian Xiberras hit a low strike that rolled into the net.
The Lions fought back strongly and had the ball into the Spurs’ net through Brandon Said but the ‘goal’ was annulled for a foul on the goalkeeper.
Sannat also protested for two penalties in seperate occasions for alleged foul play on Ebube Ralph Okpokwu but the referee waved away their protests.
Just before half time St Lawrence went very close to double the score but an effort by Louis Buttigieg form a corner action was cleared off the line by Josiah Buttigieg.
St Lawrence administered play with authority after the break so that the score remained unchanged.
At the end of the match, the St Lawrence players and club officials kickstarted their celebrations in front of their fans after receiving the knock-out trophy from the Gozo Football Association top brass.
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