A goal by Jonathan Caruana enabled to Valletta to register a second successive 1-0 win, this time defeating Naxxar Lions 1-0 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium. A win which puts the Citizens on level points with leaders Hibernians who however have a game in hand, one ahead of Sliema Wanderers.
For Naxxar, their performance was once again a positive one although they left the Victor Tedesco Stadium empty-handed.
The Lions lacked Angus Buhagiar and Terence Scerri while Valletta welcomed back Denni Rocha dos Santos and had Nigerian striker Aud-Gustine Obaje making his first league appearance. Hamza Barry and Shaun Bajada were both absent.
Naxxar had the first attempt at goal with an Evaldo Silva dos Santos effort ending just wide off a corner by Pablo Doffo on the 12th minute.
Two minutes later, the Citizens took the lead thanks to a Jonathan Caruana free header off a corner from the right by Abdelkarim Nafti which beat the Naxxar goalkeeper.
On 33 minutes, a freekick by Nafti from a central position ended a little bit high over the crossbar and on the other side of the pitch, a Pablo Doffo rising freekick was deflected into a corner by Marino.
Five minutes in the second half, a Gilmar Da Silva Ribeiro freekick from outside the penalty area was deflected into safety by Marino. A Denni first-time effort off a through pass by Nafti ended inches wide past the upright. On the 58th, Marlon Briffa took advantage of an erratic clearance but his central shot from the 30 metres ended in Marino’s safe hands. One minute later, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro released Daren Falzon who darted inside the penalty box but his attempt ended a little bit high over the crossbar.
A freekick by Doffo was met by Evaldo’s header which was blocked by the Valletta keeper on 62 minutes. A minute later, Denni Rocha dos Santos’s low powerful shot from outside the penalty box scraped past the upright. Three minutes from time, Naxxar went close to obtain the equaliser when Doffo’s freekick was met by a Thiago Lopes de Souza’s header which however ended inches wide past the upright.
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
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VALLETTA Pietro Demetrio Marino, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi (44’ Dyson Falzon), Ryan Fenech, Roderick Briffa, Aud-Gustine Obaje (85’ Ian Zammit), Aziz Corr Nyang, Denni Rocha dos Santos, Yessous Camilleri, Abdelkarim Nafti (70’ Jason-Lee Vandelannoite), Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Edmond Agius, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Llewlyn Cremona.
Coach: Mark Miller
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Victor Bellia (83’ Louis John Cutajar), Marion Briffa, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Andrew Decesare, Mattia Del Negro, Pablo Doffo, Daren Falzon, Thiago Lopes de Souza, Andre Rocha da Silva (14’ Ousseni Zongo), Evaldo Silva dos Santos.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, John Debono, Jurgen Debono, Kurt Drago,
Coach: Winston Muscat
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: I. Azzopardi, Evaldo, R. Fenech, D. Falzon, Vandelannoite, M. Briffa
Scorers: 14’ Jonathan Caruana (V)
BOV Player of the Match: Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 896
Meanwhile at the National Stadium, Floriana found no difficulty in disposing off a poor Rabat Ajax side, beating them 4-0 to claim a second successive win. A second successive win which enabled them to leapfrog the Magpies.
Igor Coronado notched a hat-trick in this comfortable win for the Greens.
Rabat welcomed back Dylan Falzon but Joseph Caruana was still ruled out injured. Floriana, on the other hand, lacked Diogo Pinheiro de Souza.
The Greens managed to take the lead after just 11 minutes when off a Daniel Bogdanovic corner from the right.
Coronado went close once again with a header off a cross from the left by Clyde Borg. On the 17th, Igor Coronado’s long-distance effort hit the crossbar.
Steve Pisani missed a good opportunity on 42 minutes failing to connect off an inviting cross by Bogdanovic.
Floriana doubled the score nine minutes in the second half, once again thanks to Igor Coronado who received a pass by Gary Roberts and slotted the ball past Velimirovic.
Daniel Bogdanovic scored the third goal for Floriana as he concluded a good run with a powerful shot which beat Velimirovic on 65 minutes.
Eight minutes from time, Gary Muir served Igor Coronado who beat the Rabat goalkeeper from close range for the Greens’ fourth goal.
RABAT Pavle Velimirovic, Ivan Carapic, Diego Carrillo Pendas, Clifford Gauci, Jonathan Bajada, Dylan Falzon, Daniel Pelaez Bellido, Shaun Gauci, Patrick Borg (66′ Adam Smeir), David Azzopardi (80′ Zachary Tanti), Moises Avila Perez (80′ Ryan Micallef).
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Josef Tonna, Wayne Borg, Aidan Azzopardi.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
FLORIANA Daniel Hanford, Andre Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet (76′ Giacomo Favero), Daniel Bogdanovic (67′ Brooke Farrugia), Gary Roberts, Igor Coronado (84′ Christian Caruana), Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Joseph Borg, Gary Muir, Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Sunday Eboh, Luca Casha, Francesco Guzman.
Coach: Ian Dawes
Referee: Andrew Harms
Assistant Referees: Michael Gray, Martin Roberts
Fourth Official: Huw Jones
Yellow Cards: Falzon, Smeir, Carapic, Gauci, Pelaez, Micallef, Pisani
Scorers: 11′ Igor Coronado, 54′ Igor Coronado, 65′ Daniel Bogdanovic, 82′ Igor Coronado
BOV Player of the Match: Igor Coronado
Attendance at the National Stadium: 603