Jorge Pereira da Silva was the hero for Qormi with a hat-trick as the team led by Stephen Azzopardi reached the second U*BET FA Trophy in three years, defeating champions Valletta in a highly-entertaining seven-goal thriller.
In the final, which will be played next Sunday, Qormi will be facing the winner of the second semi-final between Hibernians and Hamrun Spartans.
This was a most disappointing finale for the Citizens who were aiming for the double after winning the twenty-first championship.
Qormi were in full strength as they welcomed back Jorge Pereira da Silva and Jonathan Bondin with Vincent Kouadio Adioumani, Kris Thackray, Joseph Farrugia and Triston Caruana all named in the starting line-up. Valletta, on the other hand, lacked the suspended Saidou Mady Panandetiguiri.
The Yellow Blacks took a shock lead on the 7th minute when they were awarded a freekick just outside the penalty area and specialist Joseph Farrugia placed the ball in the top left corner behind goalkeeper Andrew Hogg with a direct freekick.
However their joy was short-lived as less than a minute later, Valletta restored equilibrium when Denni Rocha dos Santos managed to slot the ball home from close range following a cross from the right by Edmond Agius.
Denni went close to putting Valletta ahead on the 27th when he received an inviting pass by Mifsud from the right but his diagonal shot scraped past the post.
Valletta made it 2-1 on 33 minutes when off a cross by Denni from the right, Terence Scerri headed the ball home in style past Farrugia.
Two minutes later, Ousseni Zongo entered the penalty area from the left but his conclusion was turned into a corner by the Qormi custodian.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, Abubakar Bello-Osagie missed a good opportunity hitting high from close range after receiving a good pass by Jorge Pereira da Silva and having his first attempt blocked by a defender
However one minute from half-time, Qormi notched the equaliser thanks to a direct freekick by Jorge Pereira dos Santos whose powerful shot saw the ball end in the top right corner.
Thirteen minutes in the second half, Qormi regained the lead. Joseph Farrugia sent Jorge Pereira da Silva through and the latter, beat Steve Borg on the run, pulling to the right before hitting low past goalkeeper Andrew Hogg.
The score was once again draw on 79 minutes when the Citizens were awarded a penalty after Vincent Kouadio handled the ball following a shot by Gilbert Agius. From the penalty spot, Denni Rocha dos Santos made no mistake to make it 3-3.
One minute from time, Qormi made it 4-3 when off a freekick by Joseph Farrugia, Jorge Pereira da Silva exchanged the ball with Abubaker Bello Osagie who served the Brazilian striker with a perfect pass inside the area and Jorge Pereira flicked the ball past Hogg.
Three minutes in added time, Michael Mifsud had a powerful shot from outside the area turned into a corner in style by Matthew Farrugia.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo, Joseph Chetcuti, Joseph Farrugia, Jonathan Bondin, Jorge Pereira da Silva (93′ Stephen Wellman), Kris Thackray, Triston Caruana, Abubakar Bello-Osagie (92’ Luke Sciberras), Vincent Kouadio Adioumani (81’ Kenneth Scicluna).
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Carmelo Farrugia, George Chircop, Ranier Buhagiar.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Terence Scerri, Ian Azzopardi, Roderick Briffa, Edmond Agius, Denni Rocha dos Santos, William Barbosa (66’ Alfred Effiong), Michael Mifsud, Ousseni Zongo (66’ Gilbert Agius).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Roderick Bajada, Filippo Andrea Scozzese, Llywelyn Cremona, Siraj Arab.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Asst. Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Alex Grech
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: J. Caruana, Bartolo, R. Sammut
Scorers: 7’ Joseph Farrugia (Q); 8’ Denni Rocha dos Santos (V); 33’ Terence Scerri (V); 44’ Jorge Pereira da Silva (Q); 58′ Jorge Pereira da Silva (Q); 79’ Denni Rocha dos Santos pen (V); 89’ Jorge Pereira da Silva (Q)