Valletta were crowned champions for the twentieth time in the history of the club after defeating Marsaxlokk 1-0.
This win extended the Citizens’ unbeaten run in the BOV Premier League to thirty matches since the 0-1 defeat to Birkirkara in March 2010.
The Southseasiders shared the exchanges with their opponents for long stretches and may consider themselves unlucky to leave Ta’ Qali empty-handed as this result leaves them in fourth place, four points behind Floriana and two behind Birkirkara.
Following a rather disappointing first half during which the two goalkeepers were hardly called into action, Valletta managed to break the deadlock seven minutes in the second half. Ryan Fenech concluded a good run on the right by serving Roderick Briffa who lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Reuben Gauci.
Two minutes later, Alfred Effiong hit just wide for Marsaxlokk off a cross by Peter Pullicino from the left. On the other side of the pitch, Antunes Anderson had a shot from the edge of the area ending just wide.
On 78 minutes, Roderick Briffa released Ryan Fenech on the left but the latter’s diagonal shot hit the foot of the upright. Three minutes later, in a counter-attack for Marsaxlokk, Ryan Darmanin went close, hitting just wide from the edge of the area.
Roderick Briffa was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
Photos: Copyright © James Galea www.fotoincmalta.com
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Steve Borg, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Ramon Dos Santos, Roderick Briffa, Edmond Agius, Gilbert Agius, Denni Rocha Dos Santos (76’ Omonigho Temile), Ryan Fenech (87’ Jamie Pace), Andrade Antunes Anderson (79’ Terence Scerri).
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Kurt Magro, Ian Zammit, Kevin Sammut.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Asst. Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
M’XLOKK Reuben Gauci, Malcolm Licari, Carlo Mamo (87’ Gary Caruana), Clive Brincat, Emil Yanchev, Peter Pullicino (59’ Ryan Darmanin), Florent Raimy, Rumen Galabov, Gareth Sciberras, Martin Deanov, Alfred Effiong.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Luca Lodetti, Kevin Polidano, Sunday Eboh, Stephen Sammut.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
Asst. Coach: Louis Cutajar
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Mariano Debono
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Licari, I. Azzopardi, C. Mamo, Pullicino, G. Agius, Ramon, C. Brincat
Scorers: 52’ Roderick Briffa
Birkirkara dropped two important points in the battle for second place as they were held in a 2-2 draw by Hamrun Spartans in an action-packed clash. A point which leaves the Stripes in third place, two points behind Floriana.
The Spartans were once again a depleted side as they lacked Jovan Vukanic, Dragan Milovic, Lee James Agius and Dene Shields. Nikola Vukanac, Patrick Borg and Shaun Bajada were missing for Birkirkara.
The Spartans had the first attempt at goal on the 2nd minute with an angled shot by Dyson Falzon blocked by Manuel Bartolo.
Birkirkara were awarded a penalty on the 10th minute when Karl Magro brought Ibrahim Babatunde down inside the area. However Rowen Muscat’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by Omar Borg.
However the Stripes were not to be denied three minutes later when Ibrahim Babatunde managed to slot the ball past the Hamrun goalkeeper to put Birkirkara ahead.
The Spartans’ reaction was immediate. A Nikolai Chipev freekick was deflected into a corner on 15 minutes. From the resulting corner, Dyson Falzon beat Manuel Bartolo with a rising shot from outside the area.
Birkirkara regained the lead on the 20th when off a cross by Babatunde from the left, Trevor Cilia’s first-time effort was not held by the Hamrun custodian.
Emiliano Lattes went close to increasing the lead but Magro managed to clear the ball into safety, also anticipating Ibrahim Babatunde from hitting home on 26 minutes. In a counter-attack for Birkirkara, five minutes later, Trevor Cilia had a shot from the right blocked by a defender and off the rebound, a shot by Emiliano Lattes ended just wide. A shot from the edge of the area by Cilia scraped past the post on 33 minutes.
Hamrun restored equilibrium five minutes in the second half thanks to a diagonal shot by Marcelo Pereira following a good run on the right.
Michael Galea missed a good opportunity to restore the lead for Birkirkara when he failed to connect off an inviting cross by Karl Pulo from the right on 78 minutes while in added time, Daniel Zerafa, served by Pereira on the right, had a powerful drive turned into a corner by Manuel Bartolo.
Three minutes in added time, the Stripes were reduced to ten men as Paul Fenech picked a second yellow card for a foul on Nikolai Chipev.
Omar Borg was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © James Galea www.fotoincmalta.com
B’KARA Manuel Bartolo, Trevor Cilia (66’ Karl Pulo), Rowen Muscat, Andrei Agius, Emiliano Lattes, Joseph Zerafa, Paul Fenech, Andrew Decesare (82’ Terence Vella), Ibrahim Babatunde, Michael Galea (86’ Rodolfo Kumbrevicius), Angus Buhagiar.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Ryan Scicluna, Andreas Galea, Ryan Camenzuli.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Branko Nisevic
HAMRUN Omar Borg, Massimo Grima, Rupert Mangion, Roderick Fenech, Karl Magro (32’ Aaron Attard)(75’ Daniel Zerafa), Marcelo Pereira, Dyson Falzon, Gaetan Spiteri, Nikolai Chipev (93’ Craig Debattista), David Camilleri, Steve Bonnici.
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Luke Grech, Chris Cardona, Peter Anizoba.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Asst. Coach: Stefan Sultana
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Glen Tonna
Yellow Cards: Magro, Pereira, P. Fenech, J. Zerafa, D. Zerafa, M. Bartolo
Red Cards: 90+3’ Paul Fenech
Scorers: 13′ Ibrahim Babatunde (B); 16′ Dyson Falzon (H); 20′ Trevor Cilia (B); 50’ Marcelo Pereira (H)