A brace by Denni Rocha dos Santos paved the way for Valletta as they registered a comfortable 3-0 win over SP La Fiorita in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round match at the Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle in San Marino on Thursday.
A win which leaves the Citizens in an excellent position to qualify for the second qualifying round where they would meet FC Minsk of Belarus.
Coach Mark Miller named Italian goalkeeper Pietro Marino and Gambia international midfielder Hamza Barry in the starting line-up but it was Denni who stole the show with two goals.
Valletta managed to take the lead on the half hour when Federico Rinaldi handled the ball inside the area and referee Lorenc Jemini ordered a penalty. From the penalty spot, Denni Rocha dos Santos converted.
Denni went close once again eight minutes from the end of the first half with a powerful shot from the edge of the area which was turned into a corner by Simone Montanari.
Five minutes in the second half, the Citizens doubled the score when Dyson Falzon released Denni inside the area and the latter slotted the ball past the La Fiorita goalkeeper from close range.
The La Fiorita goalkeeper performed two good saves on Roderick Briffa – first on a freekick which was deflected by a defender and then on a powerful shot from the right.
Three minutes in added time, substitute Ian Zammit sealed the issue with a third goal as he managed to beat goalkeeper Simone Montanari with a diagonal shot from the right.
LA FIORITA Simone Montanari, Simone Confalone, Francesco Ceci, Alberto Mazzola, Gianluca Bollini, Danilo Rinaldi (86′ Alessandro Guidi), Federico Emmanuel Rinaldi, Fabio Bollini (84′ Frank Bahiano), Samuele Sorbera, Andy Selva (65′ Giacomo Gualtieri, Daniele Bucchi
VALLETTA Pietro Marino, Jonathan Caruana (46′ Shaun Bajada), Ian Azzopardi, Yessous Camilleri, Ryan Fenech, Roderick Briffa, Barry Hamza, Denni Rocha dos Santos (85′ Ian Zammit), Dyson Falzon (84′ Llywelyn Cremona), Jason Vandelannoite, Luke Dimech.
Referee: Lorenc Jemini (ALB)
Assistant referees: Ermal Barushi (ALB), Emigers Gançi (ALB)
Fourth official: Blerim Ziri (ALB)