Valletta moved second in the BOV Premier League table, six points behind leaders Hibernians, thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win over Sliema Wanderers. The Citizens therefore bounced back in style, following last week’s defeat to Birkirkara with three important points against a team which was still unbeaten.
For the Wanderers, this was a disappointing performance which leaves them in joint-third place, seven points behind the leaders.
The Citizens had no less than five changes from the team which lost to Birkirkara with Pietro Marino being left out of the squad, Yessous Camilleri, Dyson Falzon, Jason Vandelannoite and Denni starting the game on the bench. Ian Azzopardi was ruled out injured. Sliema, on the other hand, were in full strength as they welcomed back Clifford Gatt Baldacchino although he was only included as a substitute.
Valletta managed to take the lead on the 4th minute when Hamza Barry entered the penalty area from the left and following a short clearance by a defender, Ryan Fenech hit the ball hard past Henry Bonello.
The Citizens doubled the score on the 17th when Romulo Marques Antoneli served Abelkarim Nafti inside the area and with the Sliema defence stopping for what they thought was an offside position, the Tunisian midfielder slotted the ball past Bonello.
Abdelkarim Nafti was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a fine dipper when served on the left by Aziz Corr Nyang on 33 minutes.
Four minutes in the second half, a diagonal shot by Hamza Barry ended just wide. On 62 minutes, Nyang served Nafti whose header was parried by the Sliema goalkeeper.
To make matters worse for Sliema, John Mintoff was sent off for Sliema on the 67th after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Hamza Barry who was heading towards the area.
Valletta scored the third goal on 75 minutes thanks to substitute Denni Rocha dos Santos when he took a loose ball and beat Bonello with a rising shot following a cross from the right by Hamza Barry.
Pape Gueye was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a fine volley for Sliema on 84 minutes, a few seconds after having a good shot turned into a corner by Valletta goalkeeper Yenz Cini. Two minutes later, a close-range header by Hamza Barry was turned into a corner by Henry Bonello.
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SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, Jacob Borg (59′ Ivan Woods), John Mintoff, Mark Scerri, Stanley Ohawuchi, Abubakar Bello-Osagie (75′ Pape Guaye), Paltemio Barbetti, Matias Muchardi, Beppe Muscat (46′ Clifford Gatt Baldacchino), Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Axl Xuereb, Trevor Cilia, Gabriel Aquilina.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
VALLETTA Yenz Cini, Jonathan Caruana, Ryan Fenech, Edmond Agius (72′ Denni Rocha dos Santos), Roderick Briffa, Romulo Marques Antoneli (60′ Jason Vandelannoite), Hamza Barry, Aziz Corr Nyang, Shaun Bajada, Abdelkarim Nafti (79′ Ian Zammit), Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Dyson Falzon, Yessous Camilleri.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Dimech, Mintoff, Nafti, Ohawuchi, Briffa, Bajada, A. Muscat
Red Cards: 67′ John Mintoff
Scorers: 4′ Ryan Fenech, 17′ Abdelkarim Nafti, 75′ Denni Rocha dos Santos
BOV Player of the Match: Abdelkarim Nafti