Valletta kept the pace with leaders Hibernians as they defeated eternal rivals Floriana 1-0 in the weekend’s big match from the BOV Premier League.
Floriana, on the other hand, now fall five points behind the Citizens, staying three ahead of Birkirkara and Qormi.
Valletta went out in search of an early goal and Manuel Bartolo came to the rescue on the 7th minute as he rushed out of the area to anticipate Michael Mifsud before he could conclude. On the 19th, off an inviting cross by William Barbosa from the right, there was no one to connect.
Floriana replied with a long-distance shot by Christian Cassar which was neutralised by Andrew Hogg on 26 minutes. A minute later, a cross by Michael Mifsud was met by Denni Dos Santos whose low shot was parried by Bartolo.
Valletta managed to take the lead on 31 minutes when off a cross by Michael Mifsud from the left, William Barbosa placed the ball at the back of the net with a diagonal low shot.
The Greens’ reaction consisted of a Christian Cassar freekick just outside the penalty area ending over the crossbar.
Four minutes in the second half, Barbosa served Mifsud inside the penalty area but the Valletta striker hit high. Two minutes later, a cross by Christian Cassar from the right was met by an Ivan Woods header which however was completely off target.
On 54 minutes, Dyson Falzon’s corner found Jonathan Caruana in front of Manuel Bartolo but his close-range shot was saved by the Floriana custodian. Three minutes later, Manolito Micallef’s cross from the left was well controlled by Ivan Woods outside the penalty area but the latter’s conclusion ended high. A Christian Cassar freekick from outside the penalty area ended up in the safe hands of Andrew Hogg.
Two minutes from time, substitute Alfred Effiong served Denni Dos Santos inside the penalty area but the latter’s attempt was neutralised by Bartolo. On the 90th, Michael Mifsud went close with a header ending just over the bar and finally an Ivan Woods freekick was parried by Hogg.
Pablo Doffo was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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FLORIANA Manuel Bartolo, Owen Bugeja, Thomas Paris, John Mintoff, Pablo Doffo, Manolito Micallef, Christian Caruana (5’ Joseph Borg), Ivan Woods, Duncan Pisani, Tyrone Farrugia (34′ Clyde Borg), Christian Cassar (63’ Boris Odwong.)
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Luke Agius, Chris Grech, Ryan Darmanin.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Frank Schembri
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi, Roderick Briffa, Jamie Pace, Edmond Agius, Dyson Falzon (73’ Alfred Effiong), Denni Dos Santos, William Barbosa (77′ Gilbert Agius), Michael Mifsud.
Subs not used: Matthew Towns, Ousseni Zongo, Samir Arab, Isaac Zammit, Siraj Arab.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Asst. Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Asst Referees: Alan Camilleri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Cassar, Azzopardi, Woods, J. Borg, C. Borg
Scorers: 32′ William Barbosa
Balzan Youths registered an important 2-1 win over Tarxien Rainbows in a direct clash in the lower part of the table. The Youths are now eighth on eight points, leaving the Rainbows at the bottom of the table together with Mosta.
The Rainbows lacked the suspended Daniel Mariano Bueno while Clifton Ciantar was ruled out as he serves a one-match ban for Balzan Youths. Pedro dos Santos Calcado, on the other hand, was back after serving a two-match suspension.
Following a quiet start, Tarxien had a first attempt at goal when off a cross by Justin Grioli, Caio Garcia Suguino tested Matthew Camilleri with a good shot on 25 minutes.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, the Rainbows went close to taking the lead when Ricardo Costa served Karl Pulo whose diagonal shot from inside the area hit the upright with the ball being cleared into safety.
Two minutes in added time, Balzan took the lead when off a Pedro Calcado corner from the right, Nikola Tasic headed home past goalkeeper David Cassar.
Eleven minutes in the second half, the Youths doubled the score when off a cross by Miguel Ciantar from the right, Kris Bright controlled the ball and slotted past the Tarxien goalkeeper.
Tarxien pulled one back on 62 minutes when off a corner from the left, Matthew Camilleri blocked but off the rebound, Orosco Anonam hit home. A few seconds later, Ricardo Costa was sent off as he pushed goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri.
On the 63rd minute, Balzan were also reduced to ten men as Rennie Forace was given marching orders by referee Kevin Azzopardi after collecting a second yellow card.
Tarxien went close once again as Rodrigo Galvao headed the ball just over the bar off an inviting freekick by Suguino from the right on 76 minutes. Three minutes later, Kris Bright went close with a diagonal shot from the left ending just wide.
One minute from time, goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri came to the rescue with a great save on a Rodrigo Galvao effort.
Nikola Tasic was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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TARXIEN David Cassar, Steve Sadowski, Manuel Caruana (69′ Adrian Carabott), Everton Antonio Pereira, Ricardo Costa, Rodrigo Andreis Galvao, Karl Pulo (70′ Roberto Fagundes Saraiva), Orosco Anonam, Ryan Mintoff (80′ Stefan Giglio), Caio Garcia Suguino, Justin Grioli.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Luke Vella Critien, Julian Vella, Lee Galea.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Asst. Coach: Michael Church
BALZAN Matthew Camilleri, Yessous Camilleri, Rennie Forace, Bledjon Guga, Jonathan Francica, Dylan Grima, Nikola Tasic, Lydon Micallef (45+1′ David Fenech), Miguel Ciantar (67′ Roderick Farrugia), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Kris Bright (86′ Fagner Lins Bernandes).
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Silvan Ciscaldi, Michael Borg, Bjorn Bondin.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Asst Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Forace, Ciantar, Suguino, Tasic, Fenech, M. Camilleri
Red Cards: 62′ Ricardo Costa, 63′ Rennie Forace
Scorers: 45+2′ Nikola Tasic, 56′ Kris Bright, 61′ Orosco Anonam