Valletta practically threw away their slim chances of clinching the title as they suffered a 1-3 defeat to St. Andrews at the National Stadium. A defeat which leaves them six points behind leaders Hibernians and four behind Balzan with the Paolites having a game in hand.
The Saints, who had already held Valletta twice in draws in the previous rounds, collected three well-deserved points. This was the third win in four matches for Danilo Doncic’s side.
Valletta had three changes from the team which drew with Birkirkara as Valdo Goncalves Alhinho, Claudio Pani and Maxi Velasco replaced Juan Cruz Gill, Llywelyn Cremona and Michael Mifsud. On the other hand, for St. Andrews, Felix Okon Udoh and Nenad Belacevic replaced Kyrian Nwoko and the suspended Michael Johnson.
The Saints forged ahead on the 12th minute when off a cross from the right flank by Enmy Pena Beltre, the Valletta keeper missed the ball and in came Aiden Jake Friggieri who blasted the ball in the top corner from close range.
St. Andrews doubled the score on the half-hour when Santiago Malano lost possession to Enmy Pena Beltre and the latter advanced into the area, beating Bartkus with a low shot.
Six minutes in the second half, Maxi Velasco was unlucky to hit the upright with a first-timer following a cross by Aguirre.
However Joseph Farrugia made it 3-0 for the Saints on the 68th minute when he received a cross by Pena Beltre and advanced before hitting past the Valletta custodian from a central position just outside the area.
Valletta pulled one back on the 74th minute when off a cross from the right by Claudio Pani, Maxi Velasco’s fine header gave goalkeeper Jake Galea no chance.
ST. ANDREWS Jake Galea, Enmy Pena Beltre, Felix Okon Udoh, Dale Camilleri, Bong Won Che, Nenad Belacevic, Aiden Jake Friggieri (74’ Jacob Walker), Ziga Kastrevic (88’ Liam Grech), Ivan Paz (62’ Kyrian Nwoko), Joseph Farrugia, Karlo Kesinovic.
Subs not used: Duncan Formosa, Ryan Darmanin, Godwin Mckay, Marcus Grima.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
VALLETTA Dziugas Bartkus, Jonathan Caruana, Ryan Camilleri (86’ Llywelyn Cremona), Santiago Malano, Luke Montebello (73’ Roderick Briffa), Jean Borg, Claudio Pani, Leandro Aguirre, Maximiliano Alejandro Velasco, Valdo Goncalves Alhinho (58′ Michael Mifsud), Romeu Pericles Romao.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Russell Fenech, Shaun Dimech, Nicholas Pulis.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Stefan Pace
Assistant Referees: Sammy Attard, Paul Apap
Additional Assistant Referees: Fyodor Zammit, Darko Stankovic
Fourth Official: Luke Portelli
Yellow Cards: Caruana, Kesinovic
BOV Player of the Match: Enmy Pena Beltre
Attendance at the National Stadium: 490
Renato Vella reporting from the National Stadium
Pembroke Athleta returned to winning ways as they defeated Hamrun Spartans 2-1 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium. A win which enables Artim Shakiri’s side to move one point ahead of Mosta after the Blues had five points deducted on Friday.
For Hamrun, this was the fourth consecutive defeat and now have gone twelve matches without a win.
Pembroke had four changes from the team which drew with Tarxien as Daniane Jawad, Neil Grech, Tonci Radovnikovic and Christian Pouga replaced Tyron Fenech, Ugochukwu Akuta, Go Nagaoka and the suspended Iraklis Roppas. Hamrun also had four changes with Glenn Azzopardi, Siraj Arab Eddin, Luke Sciberras and Brandon Paiber replaced Luis Vergara, Leandro Motta and the suspended Igor Misan and Sergio Raphael.
Pembroke took the lead on the 2nd minute when off a Daren Falzon freekick from the left, Daniane Jawad headed home past goalkeeper David Cassar.
On the 8th minute, referee Luis do Nascimento ordered a penalty after Karl Micallef brought Christian Pouga down inside the area and from the penalty spot, Stevan Racic drilled the ball past David Cassar to double the score.
Twelve minutes from time, the Spartans were reduced to ten men after Karl Micallef received a second yellow card for a foul on Jawad.
However seven minutes from time, Hamrun scored a consolation goal thanks to Massimiliano Giusti who slotted the ball past Calleja Cremona with a low shot from inside the area.
PEMBROKE Matthew Calleja Cremona, Daren Falzon, Miguel Attard, Christian Pouga (77’ Ugochukwu Akuta), Stevan Racic, Adrian Borg, Zoran Levaic, Daniane Jawad, Tonci Radovnikovic, Emmanuel Naatey, Neil Grech.
Subs not used: Craig Abdilla, Neil Micallef, Zachary Grech, Kurt Farrugia, Matthew Buhagiar, James Mifsud.
Coach: Artim Shakiri
HAMRUN David Cassar, Glenn Azzopardi, Manolito Micallef, Karl Micallef, Siraj Arab (46’ Mathieu Manset), Luke Grech, Saturday Nanapere, Luke Sciberras, Jake Grech, Brandon Paiber (73’ Bradley Schembri), Massimiliano Giusti.
Subs not used: Lyden Moore, Russell Vella, Luca Gatt, Rhys Mifsud, Jeremy Busuttil.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
Referee: Luis Miguel Do Nascimento Teixeira
Assistant Referees: Alexis Terraso, Robert Gonzalez Salvado
Fourth Official: Bruno Filipe Parente Fernandes
Yellow Cards: K. Micallef, D. Falzon, S. Racic, Naatey, Radovnikovic
Red Cards: 78′ K. Micallef
BOV Player of the Match: Daniane Jawad
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 375