Valletta regained sole leadership in the BOV Premier League as two goals in the final twenty-five minutes gave them a 2-0 win over Sliema Wanderers. The Citizens therefore move three points clear of Hibernians.
With Michael Mifsud still ruled out injured and Edmond Agius, Roderick Briffa and Alfred Effiong suspended, Jesmond Zerafa handed Terence Scerri a place in the starting line-up. The Wanderers, on the other hand, lacked Anicet Eyenga and Mark Scerri but welcomed back Alex Muscat, Beppe Muscat, Ryan Grech and Josef Mifsud. Andrew Decesare made his debut for the Wanderers after recovering from a long-term injury.
Goal-mouth action was rare during the first half with the two goalkeepers hardly being tested.
One minute from the end of the first half, Valletta were awarded a penalty after Rumen Galabov brought Ousseni Zongo down inside the area. However William Barbosa’s shot from the penalty spot was turned into a corner by Henry Bonello.
On 64 minutes, the Sliema custodian managed to block close-range attempts by Terence Scerri.
However one minute later, substitute Aleksandars Cekulajevs put Valletta ahead when Denni advanced on the left before testing Henry Bonello who saved partially his attempt and the Latvian striker hit home from close range.
Two minutes in added time, Valletta doubled the score when William Barbosa exchanged the ball with Gilbert Agius on the right and beat Bonello with an angled shot from inside the area.
Henry Bonello was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, Nikola Bogdanovic, Ryan Grech, Trevor Cilia, Ryan Fenech, Rumen Galabov, Jeremiah Ani, Emiliano Lattes, Cleaven Frendo (82′ Andrew Caligari), Beppe Muscat.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Josef Mifsud, Steve Bezzina, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ryan Dalli, Andrew Decesare
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Assistant Coach: Saviour Debono Grech
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi, Gilbert Agius, Denni Rocha da Silva (86′ Nahuel Pulitano Jimenez), Terrence Scerri, Ousseni Zongo (60′ Aleksandrs Cekulajevs), William Barbosa, Saidou Mady Panandetiguiri, Roderick Bajada.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Llywelyn Cremona, Samir Arab, Siraj Arab, Filippo Andrea Scozzese.
Coach Leonard Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Esther Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Panandetiguiri, Hogg
Scorers: 65′ Aleksandars Cekuljaves, 90+2′ William Barbosa
Meanwhile a penalty by substitute Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza gave Birkirkara a narrow win over Hibernians to strenghten the Stripes’ position and condemn Hibernians to a first defeat in ten matches.
Hibernians lacked leading scorer Edison Luis dos Santos who was serving a one-match ban.
The Stripes had the first attempt at goal on 10 minutes with a lob by Ryan Scicluna ending over the bar. Paul Fenech then served Shaun Bajada who advanced on the left before trying his luck with a low shot which was blocked by Muscat. A Rodrigo Pereira freekick ended high on 21 minutes.
On 33 minutes, Jackson Lima released Clayton Failla whose fierce shot from inside the penalty area was parried by Reuben Gauci.
Hibernians seemed to have taken the lead on 73 minutes when Jackson Lima received a corner by Cohen and rose high to flick the ball at the back of the net in style with a perfect backheel. However referee Alan Mario Sant annulled the goal for a foul.
Jason Vandelannoite then failed to connect off an inviting freekick by Jackson Lima.
However Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, who was included as a substitute, replacing Shaun Bajada ten minutes earlier, scored the all-important goal on 79 minutes after converting a penalty awarded for a foul by goalkeeper Mario Muscat on Ryan Scicluna.
Jackson Lima Siqueira was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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HIBS Mario Muscat, Aaron Xuereb (84′ Steve Pisani), Rodolfo Soares, Clayton Failla, Adrian Pulis (64′ Jonathan Pearson), Bjorn Kristensen, Jackson Di Lima Siqueira, Marcelo Dias, Jason Vandelannoite, Andrew Cohen, Peter Anizoba Chizoba (58′ Edward Herrera).
Subs not used: Nicholas Grima, Johann Bezzina, Ayrton Azzopardi, Ryan Camilleri.
Coach: Mark Miller
Assistant Coach: Richard Mercieca
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Ryan Scicluna (83′ Rowen Muscat), Nikola Vukanac, Joseph Zerafa, Shaun Bajada (69′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Gareth Sciberras, Paul Fenech, Rodrigo Pereira, Angus Buhagiar, Shola Shodiya Haruna (90′ Ryan Camenzuli), Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Andre Cassar, Michael Camilleri, Alan Tabone.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Dias, Shodiya, Muscat
Scorers: 79′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza