Valletta failed to extend the lead to four points on top the BOV Premier League as they were held in a 1-1 draw by Balzan who had to play for the last twenty minutes in ten men.
The Citizens now lead the way with 43 points, followed by Hibernians on 41 and Birkirkara on 40.
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Roderick Briffa, Steve Borg and Denni Rocha dos Santos were ruled out for the Citizens but Abubakar Bello-Osagie was making his debut after joining the club from Qormi. Balzan had a striker from Ivory Coast Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre making his first appearance but Yessous Camilleri, Matthew Mendy, Jonathan Francica, Rennie Forace and Pedro dos Santos Calcado were missing for Ivan Zammit’s side.
Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre tested Yenz Cini with a powerful shot following a good run on the right flank after just one minute. On the 14th, Jacob Borg hit just wide, off a pass by Dylan Grima from the right. Valletta replied with an Abubakar Bello-Osagie header which was neutralised by Dani Miguelez.
On the half-hour, Elton almost surprised Yenz Cini with a shot from the edge of the area. A close-range effort by Daniel Bogdanovic for Valletta, following a cross by William Barbosa, was parried by Dani Miguelez on the 35th. A diagonal shot by Michael Mifsud from the right scraped past the post five minutes later.
Balzan managed to take the lead two minutes in the second half thanks to Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre concluded a brilliant run on the right flank with a low shot which beat goalkeeper Yenz Cini.
Luke Dimech headed high for Valletta off an inviting freekick by William Barbosa on the 58th.
One minute later, the Citizens levelled matters when Abubakar Bello-Osagie received a pass just inside the area and with a powerful drive, the former Qormi player gave the Balzan goalkeeper no chance.
Two minutes later, Michael Mifsud went close to putting Valletta ahead with a diagonal shot which missed the target by a whisker.
Balzan were reduced to ten men on the 70th as Andre Arciola sent off Renato Garcia Conceicao for attempting to hit Michael Mifsud with the elbow. Four minutes later, Balzan coach Ivan Zammit was also ordered to leave the pitch by the referee.
In the remaining minutes, Valletta tried hard to notch the winner but attempts by Demba Toure and Dyson Falzon were neutralised by Dani Miguelez.
Abubakar Bello-Osagie was voted BOV Player of the Match.
BALZAN Daniel Miguelez Martinez, Aaron Agius, Jacob Borg, Renato Garcia Conceicao, Stefan Giglio, Jamie Pace, Bjorn Bondin, Dylan Grima (56’ Christian Caruana), Firas Aboulezz, Elton Alexandre da Silva (80’ Ryan Darmanin), Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Andrew Cassar, Juan Carlos Corbalan, Gianfranco Micallef, Daniel Spiteri.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
VALLETTA Yenz Cini, Jason Lee Vandelannoite, Ian Azzopardi, Jonathan Caruana, Luke Dimech, William Barbosa (83’ Joao Gabriel da Silva), Ryan Fenech, Michael Mifsud, Demba Toure (87’ Joseph Jo Jo Ogunuppe, Daniel Bogdanovic (60’ Dyson Falzon), Abubakar Bello-Osagie.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Edmond Agius, Gilbert Agius, Llywelyn Cremona.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Eman Grech
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: J. Caruana, Bello-Osagie, Bondin
Red Cards: 70’ Renato Conceicao
Scorers: 47’ Elie Moises Akui N’Dekre (B); 59’ Abubakar Bello-Osagie (V)
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A goal by Marco Tulio Lopez Silva handed Tarxien Rainbows another three points as they defeated wooden-spoonsits Rabat Ajax 1-0.
Tarxien are now alone in fourth place while the Magpies remain anchored at the bottom of the table as they are still without a win after twenty-one matches.
Rabat lacked Malcolm Licari apart from the usual Adam Smeir, Chris Schembri and Ryan Micallef. Andrezinho, Orosco Anonam and Steve Bonnici were missing for Tarxien.
A great header by Branislav Timotic off a cross by Marco Tulio from the right was turned into a corner in style by Sean Mintoff on the 15th minute. The Magpies replied with a good shot by David Azzopardi which was blocked by Ryan Sammut. An Angled shot by Andrew Agius from the left was turned into a corner by Mintoff.
Tarxien managed to take the lead on the 24th minute thanks to a direct freekick by Marco Tulio Lopez Silva which gave Sean Mintoff no chance.
Jose Luis Armario Negrin had a shot from outside the area saved by David Cassar three minutes from the end of the first half.
Four minutes in the second half, Ivan Carapic headed just high off a cross from the right by Diego Carrillo. A freekick by Diego Carrillo from the left scraped past the post on 56 minutes. On the other side of the pitch, Sean Mintoff was prominent with a good save into a corner on a Daniel Mariano Bueno volley.
Marco Tulio Lopez Silva was voted BOV Player of the Match.
TARXIEN David Cassar, Carlo Mamo (52’ Steve Sadowski), Manuel Caruana, Marco Tulio Lopez Silva, Andrew Agius, Justin Grioli, Leandro da Silva Almeida (83’ David Fenech), Ryan Sammut, Mark Victor Tanti (51’ Gianluca Calabretta), Daniel Mariano Bueno, Branislav Timotic.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Roderick Bajada, Clive Fenech, Nigel Vella.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Asst. Coach: Steven Vella
RABAT Sean Mintoff, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Justin Felice (74’ Chris Vella), Jose Luis Armario Negrin, Manuel Moral Fuster, Dylan Falzon, Clive Brincat, Diego Carrillo Pendas, David Azzopardi, Clifford Gauci.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Gaetano Gesualdi, Neil Caruana, Kurt Muscat, Patrick Borg, Yan Cauchi.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joseph Galea
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: R. Sammut, C. Vella
Scorers: 24’ Marco Tulio Lopez Silva