Substitutes Denni Rocha dos Santos and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza scored twice in the final twenty minutes as Valletta turned defeat into victory to beat Vittoriosa Stars 2-1. A win which puts the Citizens just four points behind leaders Hibernians.
A penalty mid-way through the first half gave Vittoriosa the lead and from then onwards, the Stars controlled their opponents keeping them at bay in a yet another fine performance by the newly-promoted side. It was only after Valletta coach Mark Miller included Denni and Mifsud Triganza that the Citizens restored equilibrium, notching the winner one minute from time.
Luke Dimech, Ian Azzopardi and Roderick Briffa were missing for Valletta. Vittoriosa coach Oliver Spiteri, on the other hand, could not count on Filipe Aguiar, Gilbert Martin, Luke Vella Critien and Roberto Brincat.
Abdelkarim Nafti was unlucky to hit the foot of the upright from close range off a cross from the right on the 3rd minute and off the rebound, the same plaer crossed the ball for Aziz Corr Nyang who served Romulo Marques Antoneli who hit high from close range. On the other side of the pitch, Yenz Cini rushed out of the area to stop Oscar Guerrero from entering all alone inside the area on the 7th.
On the 25th, Vittoriosa were awarded a penalty after Yessous Camilleri floored Marcelo Pereira inside the area. From the penalty spot, Oscar Guerrero made no mistake to put the Stars ahead.
Five minutes from half-time, Vittoriosa threatened once again when Marcio Teruel released Oscar Guerrero whose goal-bound shot was cleared into safety by Hamza Barry.
Four minutes in the second half, a freekick by Abdelkarim Nafti, deflected by a defender, was neutralised by Jean Matthias Vella. On the 55th, Yessous Camilleri headed high off a Ryan Fenech corner from the right.
With the inclusion of substitutes Denni Rocha dos Santos and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, the Citizens increased the pressure on the Vittoriosa rear-guard and finally equalised on the 71st when off an inviting cross by Aziz Corr Nyang from the right, Denni headed the ball home from close range.
Marcelo Pereira missed a good opportunity for Vittoriosa on the 85th when he rounded the goalkeeper but hit wide.
One minute from time, Jean Pierre Mifsud notched the winner when he received a pass inside the area and beat Jean Matthias Vella with a powerful shto from close range.
VALLETTA Yenz Cini, Jonathan Caruana, Ryan Fenech, Edmond Agius, Romulo Marques Antoneli (64′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Hamza Barry, Aziz Corr Nyang (90′ Ian Zammit), Shaun Bajada, Jason Lee Vandalennoite, Yessous Camilleri, Abdelkarim Nafti (64′ Denni Rocha dos Santos).
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Kurt Magro, Brandon Grech, Llywelyn Cremona.
Coach: Mark Miller
VITTORIOSA Jean Matthias Vella, Adam Spiteri, Oscar Guerrero, Malcolm Buttigieg, Clive Spiteri, Ramon dos Santos, Marcio Teruel (72′ Clive Brincat), Siraj Arab Eddin (56′ Mark Barbara), Michael Camilleri (80′ Ryan Mifsud), Marcelo Pereira, Samir Arab.
Subs not used: Matthew Camilleri, Justin Camilleri, Sheldon Grech, Liam Gauci.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant referees: Roberto Vella, Peter Abela
Fourth official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: Guerrero, Vandelannoite, Buttigieg, Barbara
Scorers: 26′ Oscar Guerrero pen (Vit); 71′ Denni Rocha dos Santos (Val); 89′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (Val)
BOV Player of the Match: Aziz Corr Nyang
Attendance at the Centenary Stadium: 1,059
At the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Birkirkara struggled much more than expected to beat Naxxar Lions 1-0 in a match where goal-mouth action was rare.
Haruna Shola Shodiya was the hero once again for the Stripes handing them the three points.
Naxxar gave a good account of themselves and with a bit more of luck, they could have earned a point.
The Lions welcomed back Andre Rocha da Silva in the starting line-up while Terence Scerri started the game on the bench. Birkirkara, on the other hand, lacked Gareth Sciberras and Ryan Scicluna.
The Stripes scored the all-important goal on the hour when following a good move, the ball reached Haruna Shola Shodiya whose long-distance shot stunned goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Victor Bellia (83′ Jeremiah Ani), Marlon Briffa, Angus Buhagiar, Gilmar Riberio da Silva, Andrew Decesare, Daren Falzon (74′ Terence Scerri), Thiago Lopes de Souza, Andre Rocha da Silva (71′ Pablo Doffo), Evaldo Silva dos Santos, Ousseni Zongo.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Jurgen Debono, Mattia Del Negro.
Coach: Winston Muscat
B’KARAJustin Haber, Demba Toure (77′ Terence Vella), Alejandro Mendoza, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Paul Fenech, Joseph Zerafa (88′ Daniel Zerafa), Edward Herrera, Rowen Muscat, Haruna Shola Shodiya, Frank Temile (81′ Ryan Camenzuli), Zach Muscat.
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Matheus Bissi da Silva, Kurt Zammit, Antoine Borg.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant referees: Paul Apap, Sammy Attard
Fourth official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: da Silva, Fenech, Decesare, Zongo, Vella, Gilmar, Camenzuli, Haber
Scorers: 60′ Haruna Shola Shodiya
BOV Player of the Match: Haruna Shola Shodiya