Valletta returned to winning ways as they registered a fine 3-0 win over Floriana in the derby.
Floriana shared the exchanges with their opponents during the first half but once Valletta managed to break the deadlock, they dominated.
For the Greens, this was the second defeat in three matches and they remain anchored at the bottom of the table with minus six points.
Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
Ian Zammit and Abdelkarim Nafti were included in the starting line-up for Valletta as they lacked Edmond Agius and Denni Rocha dos Santos both suspended. Brazilian striker Romulo Marques Antoneli made his debut for the Citizens when he was included as a substitute. Floriana, on the other hand, lacked Sunday Eboh but had goalkeeper Sean Mintoff making his debut with Gary Roberts making his first appearance after missing the first two games.
The Citizens had the first attempt at goal on the 11th with an Ian Zammit effort ending just over the bar. Floriana replied with a cross by Diogo Pinheiro for Daniel Bogdanovic whose conclusion was deflected into a corner. Valletta then went close with shots by Shaun Bajada and Hamza Barry.
One minute in added time, Valletta took the lead when Ian Zammit chipped the ball over Mintoff with a perfect header when served by Abdelkarim Nafti.
Hamza Barry headed just wide off a corner by Abdelkarim Nafti four minutes in the second half.
Andre Scicluna came to the rescue clearing off the goal line a header by Aziz Corr Nyang off a cross by Abdelkarim Nafti on the 55th. From the resulting corner by Nafti, Aziz Corr Nyang hit low past Mintoff to double the score.
Nyang missed a good opportunity hitting high from close range with an acrobatic shot on the 69th minute off a cross by Nafti from the left. On the other side of the pitch, Igor Coronado had a shot from the edge of the area neutralised by Marino.
Substitute Romulo Marques Antoneli made it 3-0 on 77 minutes, beating Mintoff with a powerful shot from inside the area after receiving a cross from the right.
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
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VALLETTA Pietro Marino, Ryan Fenech, Ian Zammit (70’ Jonathan Caruana), Roderick Briffa, Hamza Barry, Aziz Corr Nyang (74’ Romulo Marques Antoneli), Dyson Falzon, Jason Lee Vandelannoite, Yessous Camilleri (27’ Shaun Bajada), Abdelkarim Nafti, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Ian Azzopardi, Kurt Magro, Isaac McCarthy.
Coach: Mark Miller
FLORIANA Sean Mintoff, Andre Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Daniel Bogdanovic (46’ Christian Caruana), Gary Roberts, Igor Coronado (79’ Luca Casha), Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Gary Muir, Diogo Pinheiro de Souza (62’ Brooke Farrugia), Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Daniel Hanford, Jonathan Xerri, Joseph Borg, Francesco Guzman.
Coach: Ian Dawes
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Peter Abela
Additional Assistant Referees: Andre Arciola, Esther Azzopardi
Fourth Official: Duncan Sultana
Yellow Cards: Dimech, Marino
Scorers: 45+1′ Ian Zammit, 56′ Aziz Corr Nyang, 77′ Romulo Marques Antoneli
BOV Player of the Match: Abdelkarim Nafti
Attendance at the National Stadium: 1,409
Photo (below): Copyright © Joe Borg
At the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Birkirkara came back from one goal down to beat Balzan 2-1.
The Stripes therefore returned to victory after being held in a draw by Sliema Wanderers last week. For Birkirkara, it was a rather disappointing performance as although they held the lion’s share of ball possession, they failed to pierce Balzan’s well-organised rear-guard for long stretches. However their pressure yielded fruit late in the game.
Balzan could not have a better start as they took the lead after just three minutes when off a Dylan Grima freekick, former Birkirkara defender Rodrigo Frank Pereira placed the ball at the back of the net.
Birkirkara replied with a Matheus freekick which ended just wide on 27 minutes. In a swift counter attack for Balzan, Mark Spiteri’s attempt facing the on-rushing Justin Haber, ending a little bit wide. A long-distance freekick by Demba Toure was parried by the Balzan goalkeeper on 43 minutes and just before half-time, Haruna Shola Shodiya’s low diagonal shot from outside the penalty area ended wide.
Dani Miguelez performed two good saves on a cross by Herrera from the right and Shola Shodiya’s effort off the rebound on 57 minutes. Demba Toure then failed to connect in front of the goalkeeper off a freekick by Herrera on the 70th.
Two minutes later, Birkirkara levelled matters when off an Edward Herrera corner from the right, Shola Shodiya headed the ball home.
The Stripes now gained confidence and a Paul Fenech long-distance attempt ended a little bit high over the crossbar while an insidious cross shot by Herrera from the right flank was deflected into a corner by the goalkeeper. Balzan replied with a Rodrigo Pereira header ending just high off a corner by Firas Aboulezz.
Birkirkara notched the winner four minutes from time. Edward Herrera was the provider once again with a cross from the right and Matheus Bissi da Silva hit home from close range.
B’KARA Justin Haber, Terence Vella (46’ Frank Temile) (50’ Ryan Scicluna), Zach Muscat, Zerafa Joseph, Matheus Bissi Da Silva, Paul Fenech (85’ Ryan Camenzuli), Gareth Sciberras, Rowen Muscat, Haruna Shola Shodiya, Edward Herrera, Demba Toure.
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Kurt Zammit, Daniel Zerafa, Ini Akpan.
Coach: Paul Zammit
BALZAN Daniel Miguelez Martinez, Firas Aboulezz (87’ Ryan Darmanin), Steve Bezzina, Gianluca Calabretta (84’ Erjon Beu), Dylan Grima, Justin Grioli, Jose Luis Armario Negrin (59’ Lydon Micallef), Rodrigo Frank Pereira, Andrew Scicluna, Mark Spiteri, Fabio Vignaroli.
Subs not used: Michael Falzon, Michael Borg, Shaun Bugeja, Andrew Cassar.
Coach: Riccardo Tumiatti
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth Official: Alan M. Sant
Yellow Cards: G. Calabretta, P. Fenech, D. Miguelez, S. Bezzina, R. Darmanin, Matheus
Scorers: 3’ Rodrigo Frank Pereira (BZN) 72’ Haruna Shola Shodiya, 86’ Matheus Bissi Da Silva (BKR)
BOV Player of the Match: Edward Herrera (BKR)