Valletta took full advantage of Balzan’s draw with Floriana as they defeated Lija Athletic 3-1 at the Centenary Stadium on Monday to move to just one point behind the leaders.
The Citizens had to wait until the 34th minute to take the lead when off a cross by Matteo Piciollo, Albert Prose hit home past goalkeeper Luke Bonnici.
Valletta doubled the score on the 66th minute thanks to Miguel Angel Alba, served by Raed Ibrahim Saleh, who placed the ball in the bottom corner.
Miguel Angel Alba added another on the 75th minute following a fine solo effort which he concluded with a powerful low shot which beat the Lija goalkeeper.
Lija pulled one back on the 90th minute thanks to a direct freekick by Erjon Beu.
LIJA Luke Bonnici, Predrag Babic, Ousmane Sidibe, Daniel Scerri, McAllister Clinch, Patrick Borg, Raphael Kooh Sohna, Valifor Hysa (70′ Nigel Spiteri), Kei Hirose, Erjon Beu, Dylan Agius (66′ Leejoe Schembri).
Coach: Joseph Galea
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Santiago Malano (60′ Kyrian Nwoko), Matteo Piciollo, Enmy Pena Beltre, Joseph Zerafa, Raed Ibrahim Saleh (65′ Denni Rocha dos Santos), Rowen Muscat, Miguel Angel Alba, Albert Prosa (78′ Michael Mifsud).
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Referee: Ishmael Barbara
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Theodore Zammit
Fourth Official; Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Beu
BOV Player of the Match: Matteo Piciollo
Meanwhile at the National Stadium, Tarxien Rainbows returned to winning ways as they defeated Naxxar Lions 5-2. A win which enabled Jose Borg’s side to join Naxxar on the 14-point mark with the two teams now sharing the second place from bottom.
The Rainbows took the lead on the 35th minute thanks to Ricardo Silva Faria whose shot from the edge of the area gave the Naxar goalkeeper no chance.
Naxxar equalised two minutes later thanks to Duane Bonnici, sent through by Mohamed Belhadj, whose shot was deflected by a defender.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, Tarxien regained the lead through Wellington de Oliveira Vieira who anticipated goalkeeper Christop Nicht and lobbed the ball into the net.
However the first half was not over yet as Wellington de Oliveira Viera made it 3-1 with a shot from the edge of the area which gave the Naxxar custodian no chance.
Two minutes in the second half, an own goal by Ebiabowei Baker who headed the ball home past his fellow goalkeepr following a freekick reduced the gap for Naxxar.
However Tarxien restored the two-goal lead thanks to a penalty by Samba Tounkara after a defender had handled the ball inside the area.
Two minutes from time, Ricardo Silva Faria sealed the issue with a fifth goal for the Rainbows.
TARXIEN Andrea Cassar, Stefan Radovanovic, Ebiabowei Baker, Gabriel Aquilina, Andrew Agius, Luke Grech, Andrè Charles Scicluna, Samba Tounkara (89′ James Brincat 89), Wellington De Oliveira Viera (81′ Godwin McKay), Eduard Malin Calin, Ricardo Silva Faria (90′ Matteo Desira Buttigieg).
Coach: Jose Borg
NAXXAR Christoph Nicht, Rafael Santos Henriques Caetano, Mailson Souza Duarte Junior, Ryan Grech, Manolito Micallef (46′ Ryan Gilmour Cassar), Duane Bonnici, Daniel Mateo Bustos, Angus Buhagiar, Mohamed Belhadj (66′ Jurgen Debono), Oussenyou Elhadji Ndoye (46′ Daren Falzon 46), Yuri De Jesus Messias
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Darryl Agius
Assistant Referees: Paul Apap, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: S. Tounkara, R. S. Faria, G. Aquilina (T), R. Grech (N)
BOV Player of the Match: Ricardo Silva Faria