Despite having a player sent off just before half-time, Valletta returned to winning ways as they defeated Naxxar Lions 3-1 at the National Stadium.
The Citizens therefore move to just two points behind the leaders while Naxxar remain at the bottom of the table without any points.
Valletta had two changes from the team which lost narrowly to Valletta as Roderick Briffa and Abdelkarim Nafti replaced Llywelyn Cremona and Albert Bruce. Naxxar coach Stefano Grima, on the other hand, made four changes as he included Luca Pecorella, Luca Lodetti, Richard Cardozo and Jurgen Debono, leaving out Angus Buhagiar, Zady Moise Gnenegbe and Sead Hadzibulic apart from the suspended David Fenech
The Citizens took the lead five minutes from the end of the first half when off a cross by Njongo Priso, Falcone failed to connect and Abdelkarim Nafti lobbed the ball over Pecorella.
Just before half-time, Naxxar had the opportunity to equalise after Romeu Romao handled the ball on the goal-line to stop Jurgen Debono’s goal-bound header from ending at the back of the net; the Andorran referee ordered a penalty and sent off the Brazilian defender but Henry Bonello neutralised Daren Falzon’s effort from the penalty spot.
Valletta doubled the score on 73 minutes thanks to another goal by Abdelkarim Nafti who received a through pass by Roderick Briffa and chipped the ball over the Naxxar goalkeeper.
Naxxar pulled one back on 89 minutes when Darren Falzon received a long through-pass and controlled the ball before hitting past Bonello.
However two minutes in added time, Valletta restored a two-goal lead when substitute Jurgen Suda served another substitute Uchenna Callistus Umeh who managed to slide the ball from underneath the goalkeeper.
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Ian Azzopardi, Ryan Camileri, Juan Gill Cruz, Roderick Briffa, Njongo Priso (90’ Jurgen Suda), Federico Matias Falcone, LLywelyn Cremona, Claudio Pani (22’ Umeh Uchenna Calistus), Abdelkarim Nafti (83’ Daniel Camilleri) Romeu Pericles Romao.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Russell Fenech, Jean Borg, Nicholas Pulis.
Coach: Paul Zammit
NAXXAR Luke Pecorella, Blazo Rajovic (66’ Mattia Del Negro), Andrew Scicluna, Luca Lodetti, Richard Carlos Cardoso, Sidoine Oussou (59’ Duane Bonnici), Daren Falzon, Jurgen Debono, Ishmael Grech, Emiliano Lattes, Armando Tarlazis Viera dos Santos (77’ Sead Hadzibulic).
Subs not used: Julian Azzopardi, Isaac McCarthy, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Ryan Mercieca
Coach: Stefano Grima
Referee: Ignasi Villamayor (AND)
Assistant Referees: Alexis Terrazo, Pedro Calvalho (AND)
Fourth Official: Luis Teixeira do Nascimento (AND)
Red Card 45’ Romeu Pericles Romao
Scorers: 40’ Abdelkarim Nafti, 73’ Abdel Karim Nafti, 89’ Darren Falzon
BOV Player of the Match: Abdel Karim Nafti
Renato Vella reporting from National Stadium
A goal just before half-time enabled Sliema Wanderers to return to winning ways as they defeated St. Andrews 1-0 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
This was therefore the fourth consecutive positive result for Stephen Azzopardi’s side following a goalless draw with Qormi on Wednesday. For St. Andrews, this was the sixth defeat in as many matches.
The Wanderers had one change from the team which drew with Tarxien as Benjamin Essel replaced Stefano Bianciardi. Kyrian Nwoko and Matthew Guillaumier, on the other hand, were included in the starting line-up for the Saints as they replaced Wade Moodley and Nicky Vella Petroni.
Sliema had the opportunity to take the lead on the 40th minute when they were awarded a penalty but Gary Muir hit wide from the penalty spot.
However the Wanderers managed to break the deadlock just before half-time when Gary Muir’s effort was deflected by St. Andrews defender Nicola Andreis for an own goal.
Three minutes from time, the Saints went close to equalising but Zammit turned into a corner Kyrian Nwoko’s goal-bound header. On the 90th, with the Sliema goalkeeper out of the area, in an attempt to anticipate an opponent, Chris De Nguidjol hit just wide from outside the area.
ST. ANDREWS Kris Calleja (26′ Diego Rossetto), Clyde Cumbo (79′ Matteo Desira Buttigieg), Jordan Williams, Michael Johnson, Nicola Andreis, Dale Camilleri, Matthew Guillaumier, Luca Cosmai (67′ Michael Grima), Joseph Farrugia, Kyrian Nwoko, Christopher De Nguidjol.
Subs not used: Mariglen Sehitaj, Nicky Vella Petroni, Michael Grima, Wade Moodley, Liam Grech.
Coach: Wayne Attard
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Msucat, Benjamin Essel (64′ Peter Xuereb), Michael Mifsud, Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Rafael Ledesma, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Johann Bezzina (56′ Marko Potezica), Kerlon Moura Souza (83′ Aidan Jake Friggieri), Gary Muir, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Timothy Aquilina, John Mintoff, Ryan Dalli, Michele Sansone.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Luke Portelli
Additional Assistant Referees: Marco Borg, Malcolm Spiteri
Fourth Official: Alan Camilleri
Yellow Cards: Potezica, Farrugia
Scorers: 45′ own goal Nicola Andreis
BOV Player of the Match: Alex Muscat