Valletta beat Stripes to go top — Third win for Mqabba

Valletta moved on top the BOV Premier League table thanks to a 2-1 win over Birkirkara in the game which marked the return of former Valletta mentor Paul Zammit as the Stripes’ coach.

The Citizens lie two points ahead of Hibernians, who however have a game in hand. Birkirkara, on the other hand, are still fifth.

Paul Zammit was making his return on the bench for Birkirkara just five months after his contract was not renewed and was replaced by Patrick Curmi. New recruit Serbian defender Dragan Perisic was making his debut. Valletta, on the other hand, welcomed back Steve Borg and Michael Mifsud but lacked the suspended Gilbert Agius and Ryan Fenech.

Before the game, Valletta’s Denni Rocha Dos Santos was presented with the BOV Player of the Month award for September.

Valletta held the initiative in the early stages, going close on 22 minutes when William Barbosa and Michael Mifsud exchanged the ball in a fine move which saw the Malta international striker’s shot blocked by a defender. Two minutes later, a Denni Rocha dos Santos effort ended just wide.

The Citizens forged ahead three minutes from the end of the first half when off an Edmond Agius freekick, Jamie Pace chipped the ball over Jorge Mora with a fine header.

In added time, Dragan Perisic headed wide off a corner by Trevor Cilia from the right.

Birkirkara levelled matters ten minutes in the second half when off a cross by Trevor Cilia, Moises Avila Perez advanced and managed to beat goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.

Valletta regained the lead on 67 minutes when Steve Borg headed the ball home in style following a freekick by Edmond Agius.

Edmond Agius was voted BOV Player of the Match.

Photos: Copyright © James Galea

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VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi, Alfred Effiong (56’ Dyson Falzon), Roderick Briffa, Jamie Pace, Edmond Agius, Denni Rocha dos Santos (86’ Ousseni Zongo), William Barbosa, Michael Mifsud.
Subs not used: Matthew Towns, Samir Arab, Isaac Zammit, Glen Cassar, Siraj Arab.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Asst. Coach: Jesmond Zerafa

B’KARA Jorge Mora, Trevor Cilia (88’ Alan Tabone), Joseph Zerafa, Rodrigo Pereira, Andrew Decesare, Dragan Perisic (85’ Shola Shodiya), Paul Fenech, Terence Vella (69’ Leighton Grech), Rowen Muscat, Moises Avila Perez, Gareth Sciberras.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Ryan Camenzuli, Andre Cassar, Ryan Scicluna.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino

Referee: Esther Azzopardi
Assistant referees: Joe Camilleri, Mariano Debono
Fourth official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Sciberras
Scorers: 42’ Jamie Pace, 55’ Moises Avila Perez, 67’ Steve Borg
Attendance: 3,166

Mqabba returned to winning ways as they registered a narrow win over Qormi to move into joint-fifth place on ten points from seven matches together with the same Qormi and Birkirkara.

Both sides failed to impress during the first half but after the break, Mqabba showed greater determination, takin the lead. Qormi had their fair share of scoring opportunities but failed to notch the equalizer.

Mqabba lacked Andrew Scicluna, Mauro Bonnici, Ryan Sammut and James Paris. Qormi, on the other hand, could not count on foreigners Christos Karamanolis and Giuseppe Vela.

Kris Calleja came to the rescue after just three minutes deflecting into a corner a Daniel Nwoke close-range effort. On the other side of the pitch, an angled shot by Marlon Briffa from the right ending just wide. On the 20th, Thiago Mazzitelli went close with a shot from the edge of the area.

Mqabba were unlucky not to take the lead on 37 minutes when Claudio Calleja released Bojan Mamic on the left but his attempt hit the crossbar before the ball was cleared into safety.

Eight minutes in the second half, Mqabba managed to break the deadlock when off an inviting pass by Rene Duca from the right, Bojan Mamic slotted the ball past goalkeeper Kris Calleja.

On 58 minutes, Mqabba went close once again when off a cross by David Azzopardi, Bojan Mamic’s close-range effort was blocked by Matthew Farrugia and off the rebound, Marlon Briffa’s angled shot hit the upright.

Qormi increased the pressure in search of the equalizer but missed good chances especially through Daniel Nwoke.

Seven minutes from time, Kris Calleja came to the rescue as he blocked a cross shot by substitute Jonathan Bondin, aided by the posts. Five minutes later, a Joseph Farrugia freekick scraped past the post.

In added time, Mqabba could have sealed the issue when Shawn Magro sent Mamic through and the latter rounded the goalkeeper but his final shot was blocked into a corner.

Marlon Briffa was voted BOV Player of the Match.

Photos: Copyright © James Galea

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QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Jeffrey Chetcuti (62’ Jonathan Bondin), Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo, Joseph Farrugia, Luke Sciberras, Kenneth Scicluna, Jorge Periera da Silva, Stephen Wellman, Abubakar Bello-Osagie (69’ Joseph Chetcuti), Daniel Chimezie Nwoke (78’ Dino Cachia).
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Charlon Sammut, Gabriel Buttigieg, Steve Agius.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Technical Advisor: Steve D’Amato

MQABBA Kris Calleja, Pierre Grima, Marko Potezica, Branislav Timotic, Mark Anthony Psaila, Marlon Briffa (84′ Shawn Magro), David Azzopardi, Thiago dos Santos Mazzitelli, Claudio Calleja (92′ Clayton Micallef), Rene Duca, Bojan Mamic (93′ John Paul Muscat).
Subs not used: Franklin Azzopardi, Mark Fenech, Omar Farrugia, Kurt Falzon.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Asst. Coach: Renzo Kerr Cumbo

Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Edward Spiteri
Fourth official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Mamic, Psaila, Chetcuti, Sciberras, C. Calleja, Pereira
Scorers: 53’ Bojan Mamic