Valletta regained sole leadership in the BOV Premier League as they found no difficulty in beating Sliema Wanderers 4-2 at the Hibernians Stadium on Tuesday. A win which puts Paul Zammit’s side three points ahead of Hibernians before the latter face Floriana in a delicate clash on Wednesday.
For the Wanderers, this was the third consecutive defeat. A defeat – the seventh of the season – which leaves them fourth from bottom.
Sliema lacked Johann Bezzina but still had three changes from the team which lost to Tarxien as Rafael Ledesma, Marko Potezica and Luke Dimech replaced Alex Muscat, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino and Mark Scerri. Henry Bonello and Llywelyn Cremona were missing for Valletta but they welcomed back Jonathan Caruana and Federico Falcone. Caruana and Falcone replaced Mifsud Triganza and Umeh from the team which defeated St. Andrews in their last game.
Valletta took the lead on the 33rd minute thanks to Njongo Priso whose angled shot beat goalkeeper Glenn Zammit.
Just before half-time, the Citizens doubled the score through Federico Falcone who hit home in style after an Abdelkarim Nafti effort was not held by Zammit.
Seven minutes in the second half, Valletta made it 3-0 thanks to an Abdelkarim Nafti freekick.
Two minutes later, Federico Falcone, served by Nafti, increased the lead further for Valletta.
Sliema pulled one back on 56 minutes thanks to Marko Potezica who hit home after Vella saved partially a Rafael Ledesma effort.
The Wanderers reduced the gap further on 66 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after Ian Azzopardi brought Gary Muir down inside the area. The referee sent Ian Azzopardi off and ordered a penalty with Kerlon Moura Souza converting from the penalty spot.
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Benjamin Essel (82′ Kyle Hendry), Michael Mifsud, Rafael Ledesma (56′ Clifford Gatt Baldacchino), Aidan Friggieri, Marko Potezica, Peter Xuereb, Kerlon Moura Souza, Gary Muir, Stefano Bianciardi, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Timothy Aquilina, Justin Vella, John Mintoff, Mark Scerri, Michele Sansone.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Cruz Gill, Roderick Briffa, Njongo Priso (70′ Uchenna Calistus Umeh), Federico Falcone, Claudio Pani (90+1′ Nicholas Pulis), Abdelkarim Nafti (90+1′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Romeu Pericles Romao.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Daniel Camilleri, Russell Fenech, Jurgen Suda.
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Zammit, Bianciardi
Red Cards: 61′ Ian Azzopardi
Scorers: 33′ Njongo Priso, 45′ Federico Falcone, 52′ Abdelkarim Nafti, 54′ Federico Falcone, 56′ Marko Potezica, 66′ Kerlon Moura Souza pen
Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Pembroke Athleta cruised past neighbours St. Andrews, beating them 4-0, to move fifth from bottom.
For St. Andrews, now under the guidance of coach Jose Borg, following the departure of Wayne Attard, this was the thirteenth defeat in as many matches.
Gustavo Villalobos put Pembroke ahead on the 10th minute when he took a short clearance following a cross by Laudisi and hit low past Kris Calleja.
Pembroke doubled the score on 32 minutes thanks to an own goal as Clyde Cumbo was unlucky to deflect the ball past Calleja following a cross by Villalobos.
Five minutes from half-time, Villalobos served Ariel Laudisi who slammed the ball past the St. Andrews goalkeeper.
St. Andrews were reduced to ten men on the 70th minute as Edafe Uzeh picked a second yellow card and three minutes later, Pembroke sealed the issue with a third goal thanks to Kyle O’Brien who hit low past Kris Calleja following an assist by Villalobos.
PEMBROKE Matthew Farrugia, Gibson Bardsley (63′ Peter Paul Sammut), Alex Cini, Miguel Attard, Owen Bugeja, Paltemio Barbetti (80′ Lyden Micallef), Kyle O’Brien, Ariel Laudisi, Gustavo Villalobos, Austin Martz (75′ Siraj Eddin Arab), Zoran Levnajic.
Subs not used: Mario Muscat, Rennie Tanti, Tyron Fenech, Leighton Grech.
Coach: Winston Muscat
ST. ANDREWS Kris Calleja, Nick Ghio, Dale Camilleri (46′ Liam Grech), Marigen Sehitaj (46′ Michael Johnson), Eloy Edu Nkene, Matthew Guillaumier, Matteo Desira Buttigieg (78′ Nikky Vella Petroni), Michael Grima, Joseph Farrugia, Christopher Edafe Uzeh, Clyde Cumbo.
Subs not used: Dorian Bugeja, Jordan Williams, Michael Johnson, Jacob Walker, Josh Parry.
Coach: Jose Borg
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, Ryan Aquilina
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Sehitaj, Nkene, Barbetti, Uzeh
Red Cards: 70′ Edafe Uzeh
Scorers: 10′ Gustavo Villalobos, 33′ own goal, 40′ Ariel Laudisi, 73′ Kyle O’Brien
BOV Player of the Match: Gustavo Villalobos
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 281