A goal by Denni Rocha Dos Santos four minutes from the end of the second half of extra-time enabled holders Valletta to beat Tarxien Rainbows and reach the final of the U*BET FA Trophy.
It was a balanced encounter which saw the two teams share the exchanges for long stretches, with both sides hitting the posts twice.
Both coaches were unable to field their best formation due to the absence of Everton Antonio Pereira for Tarxien and Gilbert Agius for Valletta. Orosco Anonam deputised for Everton in the heart of the Tarxien defence, playing an excellent game together with main striker Daniel Mariano Bueno.
The Citizens had the first real scoring opportunity on the 19th when off a cross by Steve Borg from the left, Ryan Fenech’s fine first-time effort ended just over the crossbar.
On 31 minutes, Denni received a through pass, managed to avoid two players and hit low from inside the area but his conclusion hit the foot of the post. A minute later, off a Julian Vella freekick, a close-range header by Sergio Pacheco De Oliviera was parried by Andrew Hogg.
Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues headed just wide off a cross from the right on 37 minutes. On the other side of the pitch, two minutes later, Anderson Antunes released Denni whose diagonal shot from the right ended just wide.
The two teams continued to share the exchanges after the break but shots at goal were quite rare. Anderson Antunes tested David Cassar with a shot from the edge of the area on 75 minutes and a minute later, off a cross by Terence Scerri, Denni went close with a strong header. On the other side of the pitch, an angled shot by Cristiano was neutralised by Hogg.
Substitute Terence Scerri was unlucky to hit the foot of the post for Valletta ten minutes from time. On the 89th minute, it was the Rainbows turn to hit the crossbar with a Daniel Mariano Bueno header off a freekick by Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira from the left. A minute later, Bueno was unlucky once again with a powerful drive which hit the upright with Hogg beaten.
With no goals being scored, the game went into extra-time and Daniel Mariano Bueno tried his luck with a cross shot from the right which was parried by the Valletta goalkeeper on the 91st. The Citizens replied with a shot from outside the area by Jamie Pace which ended wide and a powerful shot from the edge of the area by Edmond Agius which was saved by Cassar.
Valletta scored the all-important goal four minutes from the final whistle when former Tarxien striker Denni Rocha Dos Santos recieved a good pass by Ian Azzopardi and rounded two players before beating Cassar with a fine shot.
Two minutes in added time, Tarxien had Ryan Mintoff sent off after hitting an opponent.
Photo: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
TARXIEN David Cassar, Gianluca Calabretta, Ricardo Costa, Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues, Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira (89′ Justin Grioli), Daniel Mariano Bueno, Luke Vella Critien, Julian Vella (105′ Steven Sadowski), Orosco Anonam (117′ Andre Farrugia), Ryan Mintoff, Lee Galea.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Manuel Caruana, Sergio Hili, Warren Zerafa.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Asst Coach: Michael Church
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Roderick Briffa, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi, Edmond Agius, Jamie Pace, Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Omonigho Temile (72′ Terence Scerri), Ryan Fenech (100′ Kevin Sammut), Andrade Antunes Anderson (112′ Ian Zammit).
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Kurt Magro, Kenneth Scicluna, Ramon Dos Santos.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Vella Critien, Calabretta, Mintoff, Agius, Borg, Denni, Scerri
Red Cards: 120+2′ Ryan Mintoff
Scorers: 116′ Denni