Valletta win derby to start second phase with comfortable lead

Valletta will be starting the Championship Pool with a most comfortable seven-point lead ahead of second-placed Tarxien Rainbows after defeating eternal rivals 2-0 on Saturday.

Ending the first phase on 44 points means that the Citizens will be carrying with them a total of 22 points. Tarxien will start the second phase on 15 points, followed by Floriana and Birkirkara on 14.

Floriana welcomed back Tyrone Farrugia and Manolito Micallef but lacked Daniel Nwoke and Thomas Paris. Missing for the Citizens was Ryan Fenech while the returning Jamie Pace had to be substituted mid-way through the first half.

The first attempt at goal occurred on 28 minutes when Dragomir Draganov had a header from close range turned into a corner by Andrew Hogg. A low shot by Denni from the right was saved in two attempts by Saidi two minutes later.

Valletta took the lead ten minutes from the end of the first half when Denni Rocha Dos Santos received a pass from the left and beat Lofti Saidi with a first timer from the edge of the area.

Ten minutes in the second half, Ivan Woods tried his luck for Floriana with a shot from just inside the area which was parried by Hogg. On 61 minutes, a fine header by Christian Caruana was neutralised by the Valletta custodian following a cross from the right by Duncan Pisani.

On the other side of the pitch, an Edmond Agius freekick ended just wide on 75 minutes. A shot from outside the area by the same player three minutes later just missed the target.

Denni was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a fine header after receiving an inviting cross from the left on 84 minutes.

Two minutes in added time, Valletta sealed the issue with a second goal when off a quick throw-in by Gilbert Agius for substitute Ian Zammit, the latter advanced on the right and into the area before slotting past Lotfi Saidi.

Denni Rocha Dos Santos was voted BOV Player of the Match.

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FLORIANA Lotfi Saidi, Duncan Pisani, Brian Said, Tyrone Farrugia, Manolito Micallef, Pablo Doffo, Clyde Borg (74’ Kiril Dzhorov), Ivan Woods, Christian Caruana (85’ Christian Cassar), Dragomir Draganov, Marcal Guerreiro Fernandes (59’ Sacha Borg).
Subs not used: Jurgen Micallef, Joseph Borg, Owen Bugeja, Mark Gauci.
Assistant Coach: Todor Raykov

VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Roderick Briffa, Steve Borg, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Gilbert Agius, Omonigho Temile, Anderson Antunes, Denni Rocha Dos Santos (90′ Ian Zammit), Terence Scerri (75’ Kevin Sammut), Jamie Pace (26’ Edmond Agius).
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Ramon Dos Santos, Kurt Magro, Karl Azzopardi.
Coach: Nardu Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa

Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Alan Camilleri
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: O. Temile, I. Azzopardi, D. Pisani, Denni, C. Caruana
Scorers: 35’ Denni Rocha Dos Santos, 90+2′ Ian Zammit
Attendance: 5,247

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Tarxien Raibows and Birkirkara ended the first phase with a point each as they shared the spoils in a goalless draw. The two teams shared the exchanges for long stretches although the Stripes had more attempts at goal.

Nigerian striker Ibrahim Babatunde was making his debut for Birkirkara. Joseph Zerafa also returned for the Stripes after missing the last game but Trevor Cilia and Simon Zahra were missing once again. Tarxien, on the other hand, lacked Manuel Caruana and Daniel Mariano Bueno with Ricardo Costa starting the game on the bench.

The Stripes had the first attempt at goal by on the 15th when a fine Shaun Bajada freekick from the right was saved in two attempts by David Cassar. Tarxien replied with a Sergio Pacheco freekick which was tipped into a corner by Michael Fraser.

On 36 minutes, the Tarxien goalkeeper performed a good save on a close-range effort by Emiliano Lattes following a cross from the right by Paul Fenech.

Shaun Bajada went close once again for Birkirkara as he concluded a good move on the left with a diagonal shot ending just wide on 57 minutes. On 68 minutes, following a cross by Lattes from the right, shots by Vukanac and Babatunde were blocked by Vella Critien on the goal line.

Emiliano Lattes was voted BOV Player of the Match.

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TARXIEN David Cassar, Steve Sadowski, Everton Antonio Pereira, Gianluca Calabretta (83’ Sergio Hili), Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues, Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira, Mark Tanti (46’ Justin Grioli), Luke Vella Critien, Orosco Anonam, Ryan Mintoff, Lee Galea.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Andre Farrugia, Ricardo Costa, Warren Zerafa, Julian Vella.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Assistant Coach: Michael Church

B’KARA Michael Fraser, Angus Buhagiar (20’ Nikola Vukanac), Patrick Borg, Joseph Zerafa, Shaun Bajada (88’ Rodolfo Kumbrevicius), Rowen Muscat, Paul Fenech, Andrei Agius, Emiliano Lattes, Michael Galea, Ibrahim Babatunde (78’ Carl Pulo).
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Andrew Decesare, Ryan Scicluna, Terence Vella.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Branko Nisevic

Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Malcolm Mercieca
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: O. Anonam, A. Agius, G. Calabretta, P. Borg, R. Mintoff

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