Valletta struggled much more than expected to beat Qormi 1-0 thanks to a last-minute goal by Tunisian midfielder Abdelkarim Nafti.
It was a disappointing performance by the team led by Mark Miller but Nafti’s goal gave them the three important points which put them in fourth place, three points behind Hibernians and one behind Sliema and Birkirkara.
The Citizens lacked Denni, Shaun Bajada and Kurt Magro but had Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza making his debut when he was included as a substitute. Qormi had Brazilian striker Jorge Pereira da Silva making his first appearance, also being included as a substitute.
Valletta went close to taking the lead on the 10th minute with a fine shot by Abdelkarim Nafti, when served by Hamza Barry, his attempt being deflected by Matthew Farrugia onto the crossbar.
On the 21st minute, referee Adrian Azzopardi ordered an indirect freekick after he judged a clearance by Alfred Effiong from the touch line as a back-pass for goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia. Ryan Fenech served Ian Zammit but the latter’s attempt was blocked by a defender.
Qormi replied with two consecutive attempts by Roderick Bajada which were blocked by defenders on 34 minutes.
Five minutes in the second half, Qormi threatened the Valletta rear-guard when Alfred Effiong served substitute Jorge Pereira da Silva from the right and the latter’s fierce shot hit the upright A few seconds later, a good header by Riccardo Innocenti header was parried by Marino.
Valletta hit the crossbar with an Abdelkarim Nafti corner on 64 minutes. Two minutes later, Aziz Corr Nyang served Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza whose low shot was parried by Matthew Farrugia.
However Qormi were dangerous once again with a cross by Jorginho from the left from which Alfred Effiong’s fine header was parried by Marino aided by the upright on 86 minutes. One minute from time, Innocenti released Effiong on the right who concluded a good run with a close-range shot which was somehow blocked by the Italian goalkeeper.
Valletta, however, notched the winner on the 90th when Abdelkarim Nafti rounded Bondin and beat Matthew Farrugia with a fine angled shot.
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
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QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Alfred Effiong, Roderick Sammut, Roderick Bajada, Triston Caruana, Gianluca Nucera (46’ Jorge Pereira da Silva), Emerson Vella (57’ Jonathan Bondin), Owen Bugeja, Duncan Pisani, Riccardo Innocenti, Francesco D’Aniello.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Karl Sciortino, Luigi Del Giudice, Gilmore Azzopardi, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Tommaso Volpi
VALLETTA Pietro Marino, Jonathan Caruana, Ryan Fenech, Ian Zammit (64’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Roderick Briffa, Hamza Barry (64’ Romulo Marques Antoneli), Aziz Corr Nyang (81’ Edmond Agius), Dyson Falzon, Jason Lee Vandelannoite, Abdelkarim Nafti, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Ian Azzopardi, Yessous Camilleri, Llywelyn Cremona.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: D’Aniello, Vandelannoite, Effiong
Scorers: 90′ Abdelkarim Nafti
BOV Player of the Match: Owen Bugeja
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
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Champions Birkirkara defeated Mosta 3-1 in a match at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
Birkirkara lacked Ryan Scicluna with Frank Temile starting once again on the bench but Brazilian striker Jhonnattan Benites da Conceicao was making a comeback for the Stripes and started from the substitution bench. Mosta, on the other hand, were in full strength.
The Blues had the first attempt at goal when off a long ball by Jonas Rodriguez Ekani for Yuri De Jesus Messias, the latter’s low diagonal shot was neutralised by Haber. Two minutes later, an Edward Herrera freekick was met by Matheus Bissi’s header which hit the crossbar. Off the rebound Shola Shodiya hit the upright from close range. A fierce shot by Shola Shodiya from outside the area ended off target on the 27th.
Birkirkara took the lead on the half-hour thanks to a direct free kick by Matheus Bissi da Silva, beating Omar Borg with a well-placed shot.
Mosta replied with a corner by Yuri de Jesus Messias , Ryan Grech’s low shot ended in the path of Ricardinho who however hit wide from in front of Haber. A direct free kick by Kane Farrugia from outside the area was neutralised by Haber.
Mosta drew level from a swift counter attack just before the break. A Diego Pereira cross from the left was not blocked by Haber and Kane Farrugia tapped the ball into an empty net.
One minute in the second half, Yuri de Jesus Messias hit the upright with a low shot from outside the area. Two mintues later, Kurt Zammit sent Diego Pereira through but the latter’s attempt was blocked by the on rushing Justin Haber.
Birkirkara regained the lead on 52 minutes when off a corner by Joseph Zerafa, Haruna Shola Shodiya headed the ball home past Omar Borg.
Nine minutes from time, substitute Jhonnattann had a freekick partially saved by the goalkeeper with the ball eventually hitting the crossbar. Four minutes later, Mosta went close to equalising when off a cross by Lukas Duriska, Bojan Kaljevic’s attempt was partially saved by Haber, with the ball being cleared into safety by a defender.
Birkirkara sealed the issue three minutes in added time when off a swift counter attack by Birkirkara, Ryan Camenzuli darted inside the penalty box with his shot hitting the upright and from the rebound Jhonnattan Benites da Conceicao hit home.
MOSTA Omar Borg, Manolito Micallef, Tyrone Farrugia, Kane Farrugia, Jonas Rodriguez Ekani, Lukas Duriska, Kurt Zammit, Ryan Grech (63′ Alex Cini), Yuri De Jesus Messias, Diego Pereira (87′ Ishmael Grech), Ricardo Silva Faria (56’ Bojan Kaljevic).
Subs not used: Kurt Rizzo, Mark Brincat, Gian Carlo Sammut.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
BIRKIRKARA Justin Haber, Edward Herrera (88’ Ryan Camenzuli), Alejandro Mendoza, Joseph Zerafa, Matheus Bissi Da Silva, Paul Fenech, Gareth Sciberras, Zach Muscat, Haruna Shola Shodiya (90’ Frank Temile), Rowen Muscat, Demba Toure (70’ Jhonnattann Benites).
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Terence Vella, Kurt Zammit, Daniel Zerafa,
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Additional Assistant Referees:
Fourth Official: Sandro Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Diego, P. Fenech, R. Grech, K. Farrugia, Matheus Bissi
Scorers: 28’ Matheus Bissi Da Silva (B), 45’ Kane Farrugia (M), 52’ Shodija Haruna Shola, 90+3′ Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao
BOV Player of the Match: Haruna Shola Shodiya