Valletta needed extra-time to beat Tarxien Rainbows 3-1 and set up a clash with eternal rivals Floriana in the final of the National League 100 Anniversary Cup which will be held on April 13.
Therefore the final will be another clash between Valletta and Floriana, a decade after another one-off competition – the Centenary Cup – won by Valletta.
The Citizens were clearly a better side throughout the whole ninety minutes but the Rainbows, especially with goalkeeper Anthony Curmi in brilliant form, did a good job in trying to keep their opponents at bay.
Valletta soon made their intentions clear and a shot by Kevin Sammut was parried by Anthony Curmi. The Tarxien goalie then performed a good save on a Roderick Briffa effort from outside the area on 16 minutes and a minute later, Curmi managed to turn into a corner a Terence Scerri header off a cross from the right.
On 22 minutes, Anthony Curmi came to the rescue once again blocking the ball before Michael Mifsud could head home following a cross from the left. Terence Scerri the hit the crossbar on 37 minutes following a cross from the left by Luke Dimech.
The Citizens maintained the pressure of the Tarxien rear-guard during the second half but on 62 minutes, Denni Rocha Dos Santos went close for the Rainbows with a shot from inside the area which ended just wide when served from the right.
Valletta finally managed to break the deadlock on 65 minutes when a shot by Michael Mifsud from outside the area was partially saved by Anthony Curmi and off the rebound, Gilbert Agius headed the ball home.
Valletta seemed heading for victory but two minutes in added time, Tarxien equalised when a shot by Anderson Mendes Ribeiro hit the foot of the post and off the rebound, substitute Justin Grioli scored from close range.
The game therefore went into extra-time but the Citizens regained the lead on 97 minutes when Michael Mifsud exchanged the ball with Njongo Priso before hitting low, the ball hit the foot of the post before ending at the back of the net.
Four minutes in the second half of extra-time, Curmi managed to turn into a corner a fine effort by Priso from the edge of the area.
For the final ten minutes of extra-time, the Rainbows had to play in ten men after Andrew Decesare abandoned the pitch due to an injury after they had already performed the three substitutions.
On 115 minutes, Valletta scored a third goal when Njongo Priso converted a penalty after the striker from Cameroon was brought down inside the area by Kurt Magro.
Two minutes later, Kurt Magro was sent off for Tarxien, therefore leaving his side playing in nine for the last three minutes.
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TARXIEN Anthony Curmi, Manuel Caruana, David Camilleri (70’ Kurt Magro), Gianluca Calabretta (81′ Ryan Grech), Everton Antonio Pereira, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro, Mark Tanti (56’ Justin Grioli), Andrew Decesare, Luke Vella Critien, Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Ryan Mintoff.
Subs not used: David Cassar, Steve Sadowski, James Shead, Lee Galea.
Coach: Noel Coleiro Asst. Coach: Michael Church
VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Jordi Cruijff, Roderick Briffa, Steve Bezzina, Steve Borg, Kevin Sammut, Declan O’Brien (73’ Njongo Priso), Luke Dimech, Gilbert Agius (77’ Jamie Pace), Terence Scerri (85′ Edmond Agius), Michael Mifsud.
Subs not used: Andrew Hogg, Kenneth Scicluna, Dylan Grima, Dyson Falzon.
Coach: Ton Caanen
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Gordon Barbara
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Calabretta, Borg, Vella, Briffa
Red Card: 117′ Kurt Magro
Scorers: 65′ Gilbert Agius (V); 90+2′ Justin Grioli (T), 97′ Michael Mifsud (V), 115′ Njongo Priso (pen) (V)
Photos: Copyright © www.fotoincmalta.com