Champions Valletta moved six points clear on top the BOV Premier League table as they beat eternal rivals Floriana 2-0.
The Citizens now lie six points ahead of Birkirkara and seven ahead of Hibernians and Mosta. The Paolites, however, have a game in hand.
Floriana, on the other hand, suffer the third defeat in five matches, leaving them ninth.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
Under the guidance of new coach Stephen Azzopardi, Floriana had two players making their debut – goalkeeper Tony Warner and striker Francis Jeffers. The Floriana coach could not count on the suspended Aaron Brown but Kane Farrugia was back after serving a one-match ban. For Valletta, Ian Azzopardi and Edmond Agius were ruled out injured.
The Citizens had the first attempt at goal with Shaun Bajada trying his luck with a rising shot which ended just wide on the 14th minute. Four minutes later, a good move between Mifsud and Borg ended with Gabriel hitting high from the edge of the area. A rising shot by Michael Mifsud from the right ended just wide on the 19th.
Valletta managed to break the deadlock on 31 minutes when off a long through-pass by William Barbosa, Michael Mifsud entered the penalty area beating goalkeeper Tony Warner with a diagonal shot from the right.
A powerful shot by Mifsud from outside the area a few minutes later ended just wide.
Off another perfect pass by William Barbosa, fourteen minutes in the second half, Michael Mifsud was unlucky to hit the foot of the post with a diagonal shot from the right. A low shot by Denni from the edge of the area scraped past the post on 61 minutes.
Substitute Ryan Darmanin had a powerful shot from outside the area saved by Manuel Bartolo on the 71st minute.
Valletta doubled the score on 78 minutes when Joao Gabriel da Silva beat Tony Warner with a beautiful rising shot.
Trevor Cilia then tested Manuel Bartolo with a powerful shot from outside the area on 85 minutes.
Michael Mifsud was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Tony Warner, Owen Bugeja, Thomas Paris, Trevor Cilia, Aman Verma, Valdo Alhinho (46’ Sunday Wasiu), Francis Jeffers (66’ Carl Tremarco), Kane Farrugia, Duncan Pisani, Tyrone Farrugia, Clyde Borg (67’ Ryan Darmanin).
Subs not used: Jonathan Debono, Jermain Brincat, Mark Spiteri, Joseph Borg.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
VALLETTA Manuel Bartolo, Ricardo Barreto da Rocha Filho (68’ Leandro da Silva Almeida), Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Joao Gabriel da Silva (88′ Ian Zammit), Roderick Briffa, Denni Rocha dos Santos, William Barbosa da Silva, Shaun Bajada, Michael Mifsud, Kurt Magro.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Llywelyn Cremona, Gilbert Agius, Ryan Fenech, Dyson Falzon.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Keith Fenech
Referee: Aleksandars Anufrijevs (LIT)
Assistant Referees: Raimonds Tatriks, Jevgenijs Morozov (LIT)
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Jeffers, Alhinho, Mifsud, Pisani
Scorers: 31’ Michael Mifsud, 78’ Joao Gabriel da Silva
Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
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Meanwhile Mosta returned to winning ways as they scored twice in the first half to beat Rabat Ajax 2-0. The Blues now join Hibernians in third place on 15 points.
For Rabat, on the other hand, this was the sixth defeat in eight matches.
The Magpies lacked Patrick Borg and Ryan Micallef and to make matter worse, they lost Adam Smeir injured after just one minute. Mosta, on the other hand, were in full strength as they welcomed back Firas Aboulezz and Daniel Bogdanovic although the latter started the game on the bench.
Rabat had the first attempt at goal on the 17th minute with Manuel Moral Fuster testing Justin Haber with a good shot from the left but the Mosta goalkeeper neutralised his effort.
Mosta however managed to take the lead on 26 minutes thanks to a direct freekick by Danail Mitev who caught goalkeeper Jonathan Azzopardi out of place.
On the half-hour, David Azzopardi came to the rescue clearing off the goal line a goal-bound shot by Obinna Obiefule who had rounded Clive Brincat and goalkeeper Jonathan Azzopardi. A conclusion by Mitev from outside the area four minutes later was neutralised by the Rabat goalkeeper. A solo effort by Obiefule ended with a shot from just outside the area saved by Azzopardi.
Mosta doubled the score six minutes from the end of the first half when off a cross by Ousseni Zongo, Obinna Obiefule headed the ball home past the Rabat custodian.
Rabat replied with a diagonal shot by Clifford Gauci from the right ending just wide in stoppage time.
Eight minutes in the second half, Ousseni Zongo was unlucky to hit the foot of the upright with a shot from just inside the area.
For the rest of the second half, the Blues held the initiative but they hardly tested the Rabat goalkeeper.
Ousseni Zongo was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MOSTA Justin Haber, Alex Cini, Bryan Agius, Steve Bezzina, Luke Dimech, Carlos Campagnoli, Ryan Grech, Firas Aboulezz (80’ Daniel Bogdanovic), Ousseni Zongo, Danail Mitev (69’ David Maia dos Santos), Obinna Obiefule.
Subs not used: Kurt Rizzo, Ferdinando Apap, Mano Micallef, Steve Onyii Chiemeka, Jonathan Bajada.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
RABAT Jonathan Azzopardi, Ivan Carapic, Heiner Backhaus (86’ Kurt Muscat), Nerijus Astrauskas, Adam Smeir (4’ Joseph Caruana), Manuel Moral Fuster (86’ Wayne Borg), Dylan Falzon, Clive Brincat, Yan Cauchi, David Azzopardi, Clifford Gauci.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Gaetano Gesualdi, Chris Vella, Shaun Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joe Galea
Referee: Glenn Tonna
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Carapic, Astrauskas
Scorers: 26’ Danail Mitev, 39’ Obinna Obiefule