The selection from the Gozo Football Association and Premier League side Valletta FC earned a place in the final of the third edition of the Gozo Cup after defeating Cilento of Italy and Mosta FC respectively in the two semi-finals which were played on Friday.
Gozo XI registered a deserved win over Cilento of Italy in the first semi-final with the only goal being scored mid-way through the second half.
The Gozitans dictated matters for long stretches and rarely conceded space to the opponents to operate dangerous attacks. However, they found some difficulties to convert their superiority into good scoring opportunities particularly due to Cilento’s defensive set-up and some good interventions by goalie Lorenzo Margiotta.
Margiotta denied Stoyko Sakaliev twice early in the game with the latter continuing to be the most dangerous player on the field of play, hitting high on the 20th. Cilento replied with a fine attempt by Vincenzo Margiotta which was turned into a corner by goalie Mark Grima and then with Mario Bevilacqua who however concluded badly from an ideal position. Four minutes from half-time, Gozo were awarded a penalty for a foul by Elia Bifano on Sakaliev. Chris Camilleri, however, concluded high his second shot from the spot kick, since the penalty kick had to be re-taken for an infringement in the area.
Right after the restart, Michael Bezzina had an attempt blocked by Margiotta and on the other side of the pitch, Grima cleared a good attempt from a free kick by Mario Bevilacqua. The Cilento goalkeeper deflected a good cross-shot by Frankie Camilleri into a corner and from Alex Simoncic’s corner kick Sakaliev’s header was blocked to corner.
Gozo finally managed to break the deadlock when a Sakaliev effort was turned into a corner and Milos Stojanovic netted directly from the resultant corner kick.
Cilento’s reaction was sterile although four minutes from time, they had their best opportunity to level the score through a shot by substitute Francesco Santosuosso which was neutralized by Mark Grima.
GOZO XI M. Grima, M. Xerri, P. Buttigieg, D. Stojanovic, F. Camilleri, A. Simoncic, R. Buttigieg, S. Attard (M. Bezzina), S. Sakaliev (A. Portelli), M. Stojanovic, C. Camilleri (K. Ganchev).
CILENTO L. Margiotta, C. Finaldi, P. Orrico, E. Bufano, F. Mirra, G. Fiorillo, A. Cauceglia (A. Cascone), M. Bevilacqua, I. Serrapede, V. Margiotta (A. De Santi), A. Russo (F. Santosuosso).
Referee: Emanuel Grech
Meanwhile Valletta defeated Mosta 3-0 in the second semi-final.
The Citizens appeared more determined for this encounter despite being a friendly tournament, holding the initiative and creating the better scoring opportunities. Considering the delicate moment of the season, the two sides tried to honour the fixture and also to make use of new players prior to their next commitments in the premiership in the first week of January.
The first goal-scoring opportunity arrived on 31 minutes when Toure Demba was released in the area but the striker had his low drive turned to corner by goalie Noel Attard. Valletta increased their efforts for the last part of the first half and four minutes later, Ryan Fenech concluded high from a good position following a good move by Shaun Bajada on the left flank. On 37 minutes Valletta opened the score through Toure Demba who took the rebound from the goalkeeper who partially saved a strike from outside the area by Barbosa.
Mosta tried to produce a reaction for the second period and on 48 minutes goalie Yenz Cini saved to corner a low angled shot by substitute Maia. Two minutes later, an attempt by Mitev was deflected to corner and from the same corner action a header by Chiemeka ended wide.
Valletta doubled the score on 57 minutes when Demba released substitute Denni Rocha Dos Santos who netted with a low angled shot.
Three minutes later Denni entered the area and lobbed over the goalkeeper but substitute Ogunuppe arrived late and failed to conclude from a good position.
Attard performed a good save on Ogunuppe following a cross from the right flank by Ryan Fenech and three minutes later Mosta’s Chimieka cleared off the fatal line a first timer by Denni. Mosta’s goalie once again denied Valletta from scoring the third goal on 76 minutes with a fine intervention following an attempt by Da Silva Almeida.
However the Citizens made sure of victory on 82 minutes through Jojo Joseph Ogunuppe who took the rebound from the goalkeeper who partially saved a shot by Denni.
On 89 minutes Mosta could have scored a consolation goal by Maia hesitated in the area and his final shot ended high. Less than a minute later Valletta also lost a golden scoring opportunity when Da Silva Almeilda entered the area but concluded wide.
MOSTA N. Attard, F. Apap (C. Saliba), M. Micallef, S.O. Chiemeka, C. Campagnoli, D. Mitev, R. Grech (A. Farrugia), E. Qordja (S. Scembri), G.D. Gbe (J.P. Azopardi), P. Egnakou (F. De Andrade), D. Bogdanovic (D. Maia).
VALLETTA Y. Cini, R. Briffa (K. Magro), J. Caruana (J.J. Ogunuppe), J. Vandelanoitte, I. Azzopardi (G. Agius), J.G. Da Silva (E. Agius), R. Fenech, I. Zammit (D. Rocha Dos Santos), D. Toure (L. Da Silva Almeida), S. Bajada.
Referee: Gordon Barbara
The finals will be played on Sunday at the Gozo Stadium. The final for third and fourth place will kick-off at 13:00 followed by the final between Gozo and Valletta at 15:00.