Ten-man Valletta move seven points clear — Nwoke brace puts Greens in second place

Valletta collected three important points in the race for the BOV Premier League title as they defeated Birkirkara 1-0 despite playing for fifty minutes in ten men.

The Stripes held the initiative early in the game but against the run of play, Valletta managed to take the lead. The dismissal of Jamie Pace seemed to complicate matters for the leaders but the Citizens managed to control their opponents to take home the three points and move seven points ahead of Floriana, eight ahead of Marsaxlokk and nine ahead of the Stripes.

Birkirkara welcomed back in their starting line-up Angus Buhagiar, Shaun Bajada and Trevor Cilia but Rowen Muscat was still unavailable. On the other hand, Jamie Pace returned for Valletta.

The Stripes had the first attempt at goal on the 2nd minute when Joseph Zerafa served Trevor Cilia whose shot was saved by Hogg. On the 14th minute, following a good run on the right, Trevor Cilia tried to serve Michael Galea but was anticipated by Hogg. Five minutes later, the Stripes appealed for a penalty after Andrei Agius was apparently brought down inside the area by a defender. However referee Adrian Azzopardi waved play on.

On the half hour, Andrade Antunes Anderson received a yellow card for simulation as it was the Citizens’ turn to appeal for a penalty.

Valletta forged ahead on 37 minutes when off a cross from the right by Terence Scerri, Andrade Antunes Anderson anticipated defender Patrick Borg to place the ball at the back of the net.

Two minutes later, Valletta were reduced to ten men as Jamie Pace was sent off for trying to hit Trevor Cilia.

Just before half-time, a cross shot by Cilia was saved in two attempts by Andrew Hogg.

Substitute Ibrahim Babatunde tried his luck with a header following a cross from the left one minute in the second half but the Valletta custodian saved. Then on 64 minutes, Michael Galea was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a rising shot from the left following a corner by Emiliano Lattes. Two minutes later, Trevor Cilia went close for the Stripes with an angled shot from the right.

In a swift counter-attack for Valletta, Andrade Antunes Anderson was heading towards goal on the 70th but was anticipated by Andrei Agius as he was about to conclude from inside the area. A good shot by substitute Omonigho Temile two minutes later was deflected into a corner by a defender. On the 80th, Hogg performed a great save on a fine Paul Fenech effort from outside the area.

Four minutes in added time, Valletta could have sealed the issue with a second goal but Denni concluded a solo run with a low shot which scraped past the post.

Gilbert Agius was voted BOV Player of the Match.

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B’KARA Michael Fraser, Emiliano Lattes, Shaun Bajada Nikola Vukanac, Patrick Borg (46’ Ibrahim Babatunde), Paul Fenech, Joseph Zerafa (60’ Andrew Decesare), Andrei Agius, Angus Buhagiar, Michael Galea, Trevor Cilia (75’ Karl Pulo).
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Terence Vella, Ryan Scicluna, Rodolfo Kumbrevicius.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Branko Nisevic

VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Roderick Briffa (16’ Ramon Dos Santos), Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Steve Borg, Gilbert Agius (84’ Kevin Sammut), Jamie Pace, Edmond Agius, Andrade Antunes Anderson, Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Terence Scerri (69’ Omonigho Temile).
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Kenneth Scicluna, Kurt Magro, Dylan D’Agostino.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa

Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: M. Galea, Anderson, J. Zerafa, S. Borg, G. Agius, S. Bajada, P. Fenech
Red Cards: 39’ Jamie Pace
Scorers: 37’ Andrade Antunes Anderson
Attendance: 3,618

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A brace by Daniel Nwoke gave Floriana a 2-0 win over Hamrun Spartans. A win which puts the Greens back in second place and leaves Hamrun at the bottom of the Championship Pool.

The Spartans failed to impress following two fine performances against Valletta and Birkirkara in the previous two outings.

Floriana had no changes from the team which defeated Tarxien last week. Hamrun, on the other hand, lacked Jovan Vukanic as he was serving a one-match ban.

The Greens managed to take the lead on the 6th minute when a Christian Cassar freekick from the left created havoc inside the area and finally Daniel Nwoke placed the ball at the back of the net.

The Spartans replied with a shot from the left by Nikolai Chipev ending just wide on the 21st. Twelve minutes later, Rupert Mangion missed a great chance to level matters, heading wide off a cross from the right by Gaetan Spiteri.

On the other side of the pitch, on 38 minutes, Dragan Milovic came to the rescue for the Spartans clearing off the goal line a Dragomir Draganov header.

One minute from the end of the first half, referee Alan Mario Sant abandoned the pitch injured and was replaced by fourth official Kevin Azzopardi.

Floriana doubled the score on 56 minutes when Roderick Fenech lost the ball to Daniel Nwoke who advanced into the area before hitting hard past goalkeeper Omar Borg.

Roderick Fenech then risked committing an own goal when he hit the posts with a deflection on 65 minutes. Three minutes later, a cross shot by Dyson Falzon from the right was parried by Lotfi Saidi.

Finally in added time, Ivan Woods went close with a header from the left which however ended just over the bar.

Daniel Nwoke was voted BOV Player of the Match.

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FLORIANA Lotfi Saidi, Duncan Pisani, Brian Said, Tyrone Farrugia, Manolito Micallef, Thomas Paris, Pablo Doffo, Dragomir Draganov (82’ Joseph Borg), Christian Cassar (57’ Christian Caruana), Ivan Woods, Daniel Nwoke (91’ Sacha Borg).
Subs not used: Matthew Towns, Clyde Borg, Mark Gauci, Owen Bugeja.
Coach: Michael Woods

HAMRUN Omar Borg, Dragan Milovic, Massimo Grima, Rupert Mangion, Roderick Fenech (67’ Lee James Agius), Dene Shields (62’ Marcelo Pereira), Dyson Falzon, Gaetan Spiteri, Nikolai Chipev, David Camilleri, Steve Bonnici.
Subs not used: Ivan Casha, Mark Anthony Bonnici, Aaron Attard, Mead Mifsud, Dylan Kokavessis.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Assistant Coach: Victor Cassar

Referee: Alan Mario Sant (replaced by Kevin Azzopardi)
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi (replaced by Andre Arciola)
Yellow Cards: R. Mangion, D. Pisani, C. Cassar, L. Agius, T. Paris
Scorers: 6’ Daniel Nwoke, 56’ Daniel Nwoke