A Denni Rocha dos Santos penalty thirteen minutes in the second half was enough for Valletta to beat Senglea Athletic 1-0 at the Hibernians Stadium on Saturday to keep the pace with leaders Balzan. A win in a game which marked the debut of Danilo Doncic as Valletta coach.
Doncic was not the only new face for Valletta as they had Estonian striker Albert Prosa and Dominican Republic defender Enmy Pena Beltre making their first appearance.
For Senglea, this defeat brought them back to earth following two morale-boosting wins over Naxxar and Sliema. They are now tenth, three points behind Mosta and four ahead of Naxxar.
Following a goalless first half during which the Citizens held the initiative, Valletta managed to score the all-important goal on the 58th minute when they were awarded a penalty after a defender handled the ball inside the area.
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VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Cruz Gill, Santiago Malano, Michael Mifsud (85′ Nicholas Pulis), Jean Borg, Uchenna Calistus Umeh (59′ Kyrian Nwoko), Joseph Zerafa, Albert Prosa, Denni Rocha dos Santos (72′ Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre), Romeu Pericles Romao.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Jake Borg, Paul Chircop, Russell Fenech.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
SENGLEA Matthew Farrugia, Jonathan Bondin, Steve Bonnici (65′ Hubert Vella), Gonzalo Julian Leyton, Matias Garcia, Sergio Uyi, Ivan Edgardo Paz, Nicolas Gonzalo Virano, Terence Vella, Augusto Rene Caseres, Peter Paul Sammut (70′ Nicola Palmieri).
Subs not used: Roderick Debattista, Timmy Aquilina, Jurgen Farrugia, Ian Azzopardi, Beppe Muscat.
Coach: Paolo Favaretto
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Bondin, Zerafa, Paz, Caseres, Romao
BOV Player of the Match: Denni Rocha dos Santos
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 775
Meanwhile at the Centenary Stadium, Naxxar Lions earned another precious point after holding Sliema Wanderers in a 1-1 draw.
The Wanderers managed to take the lead on the 10th minute thanks to Mark Scerri who received the ball after goalkeeper Christoph Nicht saved partially a shot by Correa Duarte and placed the ball at the back of the net.
Naxxar went close to equalising on the 33rd minute when off a cross by Manolito Micallef, Jean Diego Moser’s conclusion hit the foot of the post.
However the Lions managed to equalise on the 67th minute thanks to a powerful drive by Yuri de Jesus Messias which gave goalkeeper Glenn Zammit no chance.
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Matias Muchardi, Goran Adamovic, Frank Temile, Michele Sansone (78′ Peter Xuereb), Frenci Qeros (78′ Ryan Spiteri), Stefano Bianciardi, Mark Scerri, John Mintoff, Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte, Jonathan Pearson.
Subs not used: Miguel Bonnici, Lee Pisani, Kurt Shaw, Omar Elouni, Gabriel Aquilina.
Coach: John Buttigieg
NAXXAR Christoph Nicht, Rafael Santos Henrique Caetano, Mailson Souza Duarte Junior, Jean Diego Moser, Manolito Micallef, Daren Falzon, Duane Bonnici (84′ Joel Ellul), Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Angus Buhagiar, Rodrigo Leandro da Costa (56′ Mark Fenech), Yuri de Jesus Messias.
Subs not used: Omar Borg, Tristan Nappa Licari, Marco Botta, Jurgen Debono, Ruben Grima.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Sandro Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Christopher Francalanza, Ryan Aquilina
Fourth Official: Stefan Pace
Yellow Cards: Scerri, Temile, Bianciardi, Buhagiar, Micallef, Correa, Adamovic
BOV Player of the Match: Yuri de Jesus Messias
Attendance at the Centenary Stadium: 392