Hamrun Spartans earned their first three points thanks to a 3-1 win over newly-promoted Balzan Youths.
Both sides had several players making their debut, namely Matthew Camilleri, Yesous Camilleri, Bledjon Guga, Nikola Tasic and Daniel Sibalin for Balzan, Nikica Gaesa, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro, Kevin Sammut, Matthew Gauci and Gianluca Calabretta for Hamrun.
Balzan held the initiative for most of the first half but had few attempts at goal. However, after going close with a Rennie Forace effort, Hamrun replied with a cross by Kevin Sammut from the right with Anderson Mendes Ribeiro heading just wide on the 14th.
The Spartans managed to break the deadlock on 37 minutes when off a Kevin Sammut corner from the right, Massimo Grima headed home past goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri.
Four minutes later, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro doubled the score when he converted a penalty for a foul by Rennie Forace on Gianluca Calabretta
Anderson Mendes Ribeiro added another two minutes in the second half when off a Massimo Grima cross from the left, the Brazilian striker hit home from close range as the Balzan defence failed to clear the ball into safety.
On 51 minutes, Kevin Sammut served Gianluca Calabretta with a perfect pass from the left but the latter’s conclusion was blocked by a defender.
Three minutes later, Balzan reduced the gap when off a pass by Yessous Camilleri from the right, Lydon Micallef slotted the ball past Omar Borg from close range.
A fierce shot by substitute Bjorn Bondin ended high on 56 minutes. Two minutes later, a Massimo Grima freekick was partially saved by Matthew Camilleri before the ball was cleared into safety.
Omar Borg performed a good save on a Pedro Calcado freekick on 67 minutes, turning the ball into a corner. Three minutes later, Matthew Camilleri saved a freekick by Massimo Grima which was slightly deflected by Matthew Camilleri.
Six minutes from time, Hamrun were reduced to ten men after Lee James Agius received a second yellow card for a foul.
Massimo Grima was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
BALZAN Matthew Camilleri, Clifton Ciantar (79’ Roderick Farrugia), Rennie Forace, Yessous Camilleri, Bledjon Guga, Nikola Tasic (76’ David Fenech), Lydon Micallef, Silvan Ciscaldi (56’ Bjorn Bondin), Pedro Calcado, Dylan Grima, Daniel Sibalin.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Donovan Micallef, Michael Borg, Jonathan Francica.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
HAMRUN Omar Borg, Nikica Gacesa, Massimo Grima, Rupert Mangion, Roderick Fenech (90+5′ Ryan Spiteri), Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (90’ Daniel Zerafa), Lee James Agius, Kevin Sammut, Matthew Gauci, Steve Bonnici, Gianluca Calabretta (73’ David Camilleri).
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Glenn Azzopardi, Stephen Meilak, Clyde Camoin.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Assistant Coach: Vince Carbonaro
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant referees: Edward Spiteri, Roberto Vella
Fourth official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Calcado, Agius, Grima, Mangion, Micallef
Red Cards: 84’ Lee James Agius
Scorers: 37’ Massimo Grima, 41’ Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (pen), 47’ Anderson Mendes Ribeiro, 54’ Lydon Micallef
In the second match, champions Valletta defeated Tarxien Rainbows 4-2.
Tarxien had four new signings in their starting line-up, namely Carl Sammut, Stefan Giglio, Adrian Carabott and Brazilian striker Rodrigo Galvao. Roberto Fagundes Saraiva and Caio Garcia Suguino were included as substitutes. On the other hand, Valletta lacked Michael Mifsud and Gilbert Agius.
Valletta managed to take the lead on 15 minutes when off a cross from the left by Ian Azzopardi, Denni failed to connect but Alfred Effiong controlled before placing the ball at the back of the net.
However three minutes later, Tarxien levelled matters as Daniel Mariano Bueno’s brilliant rising shot from the left gave goalkeeper Andrew Hogg no chance.
The Rainbows threatened once again on 22 minutes with consecutive shots by Rodrigo Galvao which were blocked by the Valletta defence.
On the other side of the pitch, a powerful shot by Jamie Pace was tipped into a corner by David Cassar.
The Citizens regained the lead on 41 minutes when a cross from the left found Alfred Effiong unmarked inside the area and the Nigerian striker hit home.
Two minutes later, Valletta concluded a swift counter-attack with a rising shot by Ryan Fenech ending high.
Tarxien went close with a Daniel Mariano Bueno effort from the edge of the area on 59 minutes.
However on 71 minutes, Valletta increased the lead further when off a cross by Alfred Effiong from the right, William Barbosa Da Silva headed home in style.
Denni concluded a fine solo effort with a diagonal shot from the right which scraped past the post a minute later.
Tarxien reduced the gap on 85 minutes thanks to a long-distance direct freekick by captain Everton Antonio Pereira.
One minute in added time, Denni Rocha Dos Santos concluded a fine run on the left flank with a powerful shot which was deflected before ending at the back of the net despite Manuel Caruana’s desperate attempt to clear the ball into safety.
Alfred Effiong was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi, Alfred Effiong, Roderick Briffa, Jamie Pace, Edmond Agius, Ryan Fenech (73’ Dyson Falzon), Denni Rocha Dos Santos (90+2′ Ousseni Zongo), William Barbosa da Silva.
Subs not used: Matthew Towns, Kenneth Scicluna, Llywelyn Cremona, Samir Arab, Isaac Zammit.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
TARXIEN David Cassar, Carl Sammut, Everton Antonio Pereira, Stefan Giglio (46’ Manuel Caruana), Adrian Carabott, Ricardo Costa (75’ Caio Garcia Suguino), Rodrigo Andreis Galvao (61’ Roberto Fagundes Saraiva), Daniel Mariano Bueno, Orosco Anonam, Lee Galea, Justin Grioli.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Steve Sadowski, Luke Vella Critien, Julian Vella.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Assistant Coach: Michael Church
Referee: Glenn Tonna
Assistant referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Bueno, Saraiva, Grioli, Barbosa, Caio, Carabott, Denni
Scorers: 15’ Alfred Effiong; 18’ Daniel Mariano Bueno, 41’ Alfred Effiong, 71’ William Barbosa da Silva, 85’ Everton Antonio Pereira, 90+1′ Denni Rocha Dos Santos