Debutante Ryan Fenech was the hero for Valletta as he scored twice in a 4-1 win over Sliema Wanderers. A win which puts the Citizens thirteen points ahead of second-placed Floriana, who however have a game in hand.
With two games to go for the end of the first phase, the Wanderers are eighth, three points behind sixth-placed Hamrun Spartans and one behind Qormi.
For Valletta, Jesmond Zerafa could not count on Omonigho Temile and Jamie Pace but Ryan Fenech was making his debut after his mid-week move from Hamrun Spartans. John Mintoff was missing for the Wanderers.
Sliema missed a great chance on the fourth minute when off a cross from the right by Chakib Lachkhem, the unmarked Clayton Failla headed wide.
The Citizens managed to take the lead on the 11th when off a cross by Ryan Fenech from the right, Terence Scerri hit home past goalkeeper Viktor Szentpeteri.
On the half hour, Ryan Fenech doubled the score when off a cross from the right, he slammed the ball past the Hungarian goalkeeper.
Just before half time, the Wanderers were awarded a penalty after Ian Azzopardi floored Chakib Lachkhem inside the area. From the penalty spot, Jackson Lima Sequeira converted.
Three minutes in the second half, Denni Rocha Dos Santos concluded a good run with a diagonal shot from the right ending just wide while on 59 minutes, the same Brazilian midfielder just failed to connect off an inviting cross by Edmond Agius from the right.
Sliema were reduced to ten men on the hour when Jackson Lima was awared cautioned for a foul on Steve Borg to which he applauded sarcastically. Referee Kevin Azzopardi immediately gave the Brazilian midfielder marching orders.
Valletta increased the lead on 64 minutes when Ryan Fenech managed to beat Viktor Szentpeteri with a beautiful rising shot from the right.
Szentpeteri turned into a corner a fine Gilbert Agius header off a cross from the left by Fenech on 78 minutes. The Sliema goalkeeper also managed to turn into another corner another fine effort by Gilbert Agius from the right on the 90th.
Two minutes in added time, Terence Scerri concluded a good move with a fine rising shot from the edge of the area which gave goalkeeper Szentpeteri no chance for a final 4-1 score.
Ryan Fenech was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
SLIEMA Viktor Szentpeteri, Josef Mifsud, Mark Scerri, Steve Bezzina (72’ Noel Turner), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Jackson Lima Sequeira, Obinna Obiefule, Chakib Lachkhem, Roderick Bajada (79’ Miguel Ciantar), Beppe Muscat, Clayton Failla (56’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza).
Subs not used: Henry Bonello, Julian Briffa, James Paris, Adam Spiteri.
Coach: Mark Marlow
Assistant Coach: Joseph Bajada
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Roderick Briffa, Ian Azzopardi, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Edmond Agius, Ramon Dos Santos, Kevin Sammut (76’ Gilbert Agius), Ryan Fenech (90’ Kurt Magro), Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Terence Scerri.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Ian Zammit, Karl Azzopardi, Kane Psaila, Dylan D’Agostino.
Coach: Nardu Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: M. Scerri, Lima, Obiefule, R. Briffa
Red Cards: 60’ Jackson Lima
Scorers: 11’ Terence Scerri (V); 30’ Ryan Fenech (V); 45+1’ Jackson Lima Sequeira (S); 64’ Ryan Fenech (V); 90+2′ Terence Scerri (V)
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
Qormi registered an important win in the battle for a place in the Championship Pool as they defeated Hibernians 1-0 to move to just two points behind sixth-placed Hamrun and condemn the Paolites to playing in the Relegation Pool.
In fact, with two games to go for the end of the first phase, Hibs are second from bottom on 12 points, seven behind Hamrun.
For Qormi, this was the first win in two months. They lacked Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo and Cleavon Frendo but welcomed back Stefan Giglio. Greek defender Christos Karamanolis started the game on the bench but was included as a substitute.
Hibernians, on the other hand, had foreigners Patrick Osei and Brian Fairbairn making their debut.
After a quiet start, Qormi had the first attempt at goal on the 30th when Josue Souza Santos tested Mario Muscat with a shot from the right which was partially saved by the Hibs custodian. The Brazilian striker took the rebound but his attempt was cleared into safety by a defender.
Eight minutes later they were awarded a penalty after Abubakar Bello-Osagie was brought down inside the area by Ryan Camilleri. Josue Souza Santos made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Qormi could have doubled the score three minutes from the end of the first half but George Mallia missed an excellent opportunity heading wide from close range following a cross from the left.
After the break, the Paolites held the initiative but found it difficult to penetrate the Qormi defence. After threatening with a Joseph Chetcuti effort, Josue Souza Santos went close to increasing the lead for Qormi on 86 minutes after he concluded a good run with a shot which ended just over the bar. Finally in stoppage time, Mario Muscat had to rush out of the area to anticipate former Hibs midfielder Ben Camilleri from scoring a second goal, clearing the ball into safety.
Josue Souza Santos was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Jason Vandelannoite, Stefan Giglio, Keith Fenech, Joseph Chetcuti (74’ Ben Camilleri), Joseph Farrugia, Abubakar Bello-Osagie (60’ Christos Karamanolis), George Mallia, Jonathan Bondin (84’ Gabriel Buttigieg), Kang Hojung, Josue Souza Santos.
Subs not used: Matthew Camilleri, Gaetano Gesualdi, Luke Sciberras, Steve Agius.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Assistant Coach: Charles Scerri
HIBS Mario Muscat, Matthew Gauci (88’ Bjorn Kristensen), Jonathan Pearson, Ryan Camilleri, Patrick Osei, Richie Hart, Andrew Cohen, Steve Pisani (56’ Matthew Tabone), Brian Fairbairn, Paul McManus (77’ Matt Clarke), Edward Herrera.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Aaron Xuereb, Warren Chircop, Jean Paul Farrugia.
Coach: Mark Miller
Assistant Coach: Edmond Lufi
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Osei, Bondin
Scorers: 39’ Josue Souza Santos (pen)