Jordi Cruijff notched a hat-trick and Declan O’Brien scored twice as Valletta defeated Tarxien Rainbows 6-2 to join Birkirkara on top the BOV Premier League table.
The Rainbows twice managed to level matters but two penalties, both converted by the Dutch midfielder, killed Tarxien’s hopes.
Valletta welcomed back Gilbert Agius and Terence Scerri after both had missed the last game against Dingli but Njongo Priso was missing once again through suspension. Tarxien goalkeeper David Cassar was unavailable as they were serving a one-match ban.
The Citizens took just two minutes to forge ahead when off a pass by Terence Scerri from the right, Jordi Cruijff beat goalkeeper Anthony Curmi.
Tarxien levelled matters on the 9th when off a cross from the right by Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Mark Tanti hesitated before trying to conclude with the ball reaching Andrew Decesare whose curved shot from outside the area beat goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
Following a cross from the right by Roderick Briffa, Terence Scerri had a shot from close range neutralised by Anthony Curmi.
Valletta regained the lead on the half-hour when Gilbert Agius served Terence Scerri who managed to beat Anthony Curmi with a cute lob from the right.
But seven minutes later, the Rainbows restored equilibrium once again with a perfect lob by Andrew Decesare from the left which beat Hogg.
On the other side of the pitch, Decesare accidentally handled the ball inside the area on the 42nd minute. Referee Paul Caruana ordered a penalty and from the penalty spot, Jordi Cruijff converted to make it 3-2.
Two minutes in the second half, Valletta were awarded another penalty after Everton Antonio Pereira brought Terence Scerri down inside the area. Jordi Cruijff made no mistake to increase the lead further.
On 75 minutes, the Citizens went close as Kevin Sammut and Terence Scerri had shots blocked by defenders following a cross from the right by Gilbert Agius.
Four minutes from time, substitute Declan O’Brien scored a fifth goal beating Curmi with a shot from the right when served by Dylan Grima.
O’Brien made it 6-2 on the 89th minute, beating the Tarxien custodian from close range off a cross by Gilbert Agius from the right.
Terence Scerri was voted BOV Player of the Match.
TARXIEN Anthony Curmi, Steve Sadowski, Manuel Caruana, David Camilleri, Everton Antonio Pereira, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (68’ Luke Vella Critien), Mark Tanti (51’ Gianluca Calabretta), Andrew Decesare, Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Ryan Mintoff (17’ Lee Galea), Justin Grioli.
Subs not used: Andrei Grech, James Shead, Ryan Grech, Kurt Magro.
Coach: Noel Coleiro Asst. Coach: Michael Church
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Steve Borg, Steve Bezzina, Luke Dimech, Kenneth Scicluna, Jamie Pace, Gilbert Agius, Jordi Cruijff (74’ Declan O’Brien), Terence Scerri (82’ Dylan Grima), Roderick Briffa (79’ Dyson Falzon), Kevin Sammut.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Edmond Agius, Leon Camilleri, Adrian Carabott,.
Coach: Ton Caanen Team Manager: Henk Thenissen
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: R. Briffa, L. Dimech, Denni, A. Decesare, A. Ribeiro, E. Pereira, M. Tanti
Scorers: 2’ Jordi Cruijff (V); 9’ Andrew Decesare (T); 30’ Terence Scerri (V); 37’ Andrew Decesare (T); 42’ Jordi Cruijff (pen) (V); 47’ Jordi Cruijff (pen) (V) ; 86’ Declan O’Brien (V); 89’ Declan O’Brien (V)
Msida St. Joseph came back from two goals down to beat wooden-spoonists Dingli Swallows by the odd goal in five in the first game from the Relegation Pool.
The Swallows held the initiative during the first half, taking a two-goal lead. However after the break, the Saints showed better ideas and after reducing the gap, they equalised before notching the winner.
Msida lacked goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo and defender Zoran Levnaic as they were serving a one-match ban. Dingli, on the other hand, had Haruna Doda and Andre Rocha Da Silva starting on the bench while Kevin Borg and Christian Muscat were unavailable.
The Swallows took the lead on the 9th minute when off a cross by Victor Fiteni, Joseph Okonkwo failed to control but Dino Cachia hit low past goalkeeper Gallen Mifsud.
On the other side of the pitch, Miguel Ciantar tested Jeffrey Farrugia with a shot from outside the area with the ball ending into a corner. From the resulting corner by Emiliano Lattes, Cedric Sciberras was unlucky to hit the upright from close range.
Joseph Okonkwo missed an excellent chance for Dingli on 27 minutes when he wasted too much time in trying to conclude when all alone in front of the goalkeeper, therefore allowing Lydon Micallef to stop him from hitting home.
A diagonal shot by Tyrone Farrugia scraped past the post on the half hour. Cedric Sciberras went close once again with an attempt from close range following a freekick from the left but Farrugia neutralised his effort.
One minute in added time, Dingli doubled the score when Joseph Okonkwo, served by Charlon Sammut on the right, managed to flick the ball past goalkeeper Gallen Mifsud.
Six minutes in the second half, Msida pulled one back when Kalenga Ndayi, served by Roderick Baldacchino on the left, beat Jeffrey Farrugia with a powerful shot from inside the area.
Three minutes later, Emiliano Lattes concluded a fine solo effort with a low shot from the left but Renato Conceicao cleared his goal-bound effort into a corner. On the 55th minute, Ndayi served Miguel Ciantar on the right and the latter’s diagonal shot hit the foot of the post.
Msida levelled matters on 70 minutes when a shot by Kalenga Ndayi from the right beat the Dingli custodian following a deflection by Renato Conceicao.
On 79 minutes, the Saints forged ahead thanks to Miguel Ciantar who managed to beat substitute goalkeeper Ivan Cassar with a shot from inside the area.
Four minutes from time, Dingli were reduced to nine men after substitute Etienne Farrugia was sent off just three minutes after replacing Victor Fiteni.
In added time, Ivan Cassar managed to turn into a corner an Emiliano Lattes effort from the right.
Emiliano Lattes was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MSIDA Gallen Mifsud, Lydon Micallef, Matthew Borda, Cedric Sciberras, Roderick Baldacchino, Adam Spiteri (68’ Iro Curmi), Kevin Mifsud, Tyrone Farrugia, Emiliano Lattes, Miguel Ciantar, Kalenga Ndayi (92’ Andrew Formosa).
Subs not used: Daniel Borda, Dasser Borg, Vincenzo Brincat, Joseph Damato, Charlie Black.
Coach: Keith Gouder Team Manager: Robert Farrugia
DINGLI Jeffrey Farrugia (77’ Ivan Cassar), Roderick Briffa (90’ Haruna Doda), Charlon Sammut, Renato Garcia Conceicao, Shawn Tellus, Roderick Spiteri, Dino Cachia, Kurt Formosa, Victor Fiteni (83’ Etienne Farrugia), Joseph Okonkwo, Christopher Azzopardi.
Subs not used: Haruna Doda, Matthew Borg, Andre Rocha Da Silva, David Camilleri, Dylan Zarb.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit Team Manager: Mark Chetcuti
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: R. Spiteri, K. Mifsud
Red Cards: 86’ Etienne Farrugia
Scorers: 9’ Dino Cachia (D); 45+1’ Joseph Okonkwo (D); 51’ Kalenga Ndayi (M); 70’ Kalenga Ndayi (M); 79’ Miguel Ciantar (M)