Champions Birkirkara suffered the second defeat in three days as they lost 3-0 to Valletta in another match from the Euro Cup. A result which means that the Citizens will be fighting for the first honour of the season in Friday’s clash with Sliema Wanderers.
A draw would be enough for the Valletta as they would make sure of winning the competition through a better goal-difference. Against Birkirkara, they were the better side right from the start.
For this game, the Citizens had two Brazlian players making their debut – Ramon Dos Santos and Hercules Cardoso Ottoni. Ian Zammit, Justin Grioli and Kurt Magro, on the other hand, were back from loan spells with other clubs. However City mentor Jesmond Zerafa could not count on Kenneth Scicluna and Jamie Pace.
Birkirkara welcomed back Joseph Zerafa after serving a one-match ban. Shaun Bajada was missing after being sent off in the game against Sliema while Angus Buhagiar and Rowen Muscat were unavailable due to injuries.
The Stripes had the first attempt at goal on the 3rd minute when a shot from the right by Trevor Cilia was turned into a corner by Hogg following a deflection by Ramon Dos Santos. Two minutes later, another fine shot by Cilia was turned into a corner by the Valletta custodian.
Valletta went close to taking the lead on 15 minutes when Hercules Ottoni concluded a fine move with an angled shot but his attempt was cleared into safety by a defender.
Four minutes later, the same Brazilian striker managed to enter the area, rounding the goalkeeper but his conclusion was cleared into a corner. On 23 minutes, Ottoni had a shot from the right which was blocked by Esequiel Lovizon.
Valletta managed to take the lead on 26 minutes when a shot by Ian Zammit hit the foot of the post, Dyson Falzon took the rebound and from his cross, Hercules Cardoso Ottoni placed the ball at the back of the net.
On the half hour the Citizens were unlucky not to double the score when substitute Justin Grioli’s cross shot from the right hit the upright and off the rebound, Ian Zammit’s powerful shot was blocked by a defender.
Three minutes later, Valletta were awarded a penalty after Ian Zammit was brought down inside the area by Patrick Borg. From the penalty spot, Ian Zammit converted to make it 2-0.
In added time, Zammit sent Ottoni through but the latter’s shot was cleared off the goal line by Nikola Vukanac.
Ten minutes in the second half, the Brazilian striker missed a good opportunity hitting high from inside the area following an inviting pass by Dyson Falzon from the left.
Birkirkara replied with a low shot by Joseph Zerafa from the edge of the area ending just wide on the 69th minute. In a swift counter-attack for Valletta hardly a minute later, Ian Zammit hit the crossbar.
Nine minutes from time, Valletta scored the third goal when Dyson Falzon managed to beat Esequiel Lovizon with a diagonal shot from the left.
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VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Roderick Briffa, Steve Borg, Steve Bezzina, Ramon Dos Santos, Edmond Agius, Gilbert Agius (29‘ Justin Grioli), Dyson Falzon, Kevin Sammut (80‘ Kurt Magro), Ian Zammit (84‘ Dylan Grima), Hercules Cardoso Ottoni.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Yessous Camilleri, Cleavon Frendo, Terence Scerri.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Asst. Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
B‘KARA Esequiel Lovizon, Trevor Cilia, Andrew Decesare (70‘ Ryan Scicluna), Nikola Vukanac, Paul Fenech, Thomas Paris, Joseph Zerafa, Patrick Borg, Alan Tabone, Jacopo Camilli (61’ Sylvano Comvalius), Karl Pulo(61’ Michael Galea).
Subs not used: Omar Borg, Andrew Scicluna, Andreas Galea, Fabian Zammit.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Konrad Borg
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: P. Fenech, G. Agius, A. Tabone, A. Decesare
Scorers: 26′ Hercules Cardoso Ottoni, 34′ Ian Zammit (pen), 81’ Dyson Falzon