A goal by Terence Scerri paved the way for a shock 2-1 win for Naxxar Lions over Valletta. An important win for Winston Muscat’s side in their bid to secure a top-six finish and a big set-back for Mark Miller’s side as a win would have given them sole leadership ahead of the clash between Birkirkara and Hibernians on Sunday.
The Citizens were unable to field their best formation due to the absence of Roderick Briffa, Aziz Corr Nyang and Latif Elford-Alliyu apart from Ian Azzopardi. Naxxar, on the other hand, lacked Marlon Briffa and Louis Cutajar.
Naxxar held the initiative during the first half although Valletta had the first attempt at goal with a Denni effort turned into a corner by Azzopardi on the 7th minute. Naxxar replied with a conclusion by Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro whose attempt was parried by Yenz Cini. Evaldo then concluded just wide off a Gilmar freekick on 21 minutes.
Two minutes later, Naxxar took the lead when Andre Rocha da Silva sent Gilmar through and off the latter’s cross, Terence Scerri placed the ball at the back of the net with a low powerful shot.
Valletta replied with an Abdelkarim Nafti direct freekick which hit the crossbar on 32 minutes.
Seven minutes later, off a corner by Gilmar from the right, Andre Rocha da Silva’s header was partially saved by Cini and off the rebound, Thiago Lopes de Souza hit home.
Just before half-time, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza went close to reducing the gap for Valletta with a powerful angled shot which hit the side netting. A freekick by Nafti was then deflected into a corner by a defender.
In the second half, Naxxar defended well to control their opponents, especially after Steve Borg was sent off for an early shower for the Citizens after a second bookable offence. Assistant coach Gilbert Agius was also sent off.
Valletta pulled one back two minutes from time thanks to a Ryan Fenech low powerful shot from outside the penalty area which beat Julian Azzopardi.
NAXXARJulian Azzopardi, Victor Bellia, Angus Buhagiar, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Gilmar Da Silva Ribeiro, Andrew Decesare, Pablo Doffo, Thiago Lopes De Souza, Andre’ Rocha Da Silva (86’ Jeremiah Ani), Terence Scerri (77’ Mattia Del Negro), Evaldo Silva Dos Santos.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Duane Bonnici, John Debono, Jurgen Debono, Daren Falzon.
Coach: Winston Muscat
VALLETTA Yenz Cini, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ryan Fenech, Edmond Agius (82’ Hamza Barry), Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (71’ Ian Zammit), Oscar Reyes Sanchez, Raimi Bakare (56’ Shaun Bajada), Rocha Dos Santos, Abdel Karim Nafti, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Dyson Falzon, Llywelyn Cremona, Yessous Camilleri, Manuel Bartolo.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Decesare, Dimech, Evaldo, S. Borg, Bakare, Bellia, Fenech
Red Cards: 59’ Steve Borg (V)
Scorers: 23’ Terence Scerri (N), 39’ Thiago Lopes De Souza (N); 88′ Ryan Fenech (V)
BOV Player of the Match: Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 743
Despite playing in ten men for over an hour, Vittoriosa Stars came back from one goal down to end their losing streak with a 2-1 win over Qormi. Three points which enable them to move to just one point behind Tarxien Rainbows and two behind Qormi.
Vittoriosa welcomed back Samir Arab and Malcolm Buttigieg and named Seydou Bamba for the first time in the starting line-up. Qormi, on the other hand, led for the first time by Josef Mansueto, after the contract of Tommaso Volpi was terminated by mutual consent, had the full squad at his disposal apart from the the injured Jorge Pereira da Silva.
The Stars had the first attempt at goal on the 16th minute with a Jose Filipe Aguiar effort turned into a corner and off the rebound, Gilbert Martin’s effort ended just over the bar.
Qormi managed to take the lead on the 29th when Jose Filipe Aguiar brought Abudulai Issaka down inside the area; the referee ordered a penalty and sent off the Portuguese defender and Roderick Bajada converted from the penalty spot.
Vittoriosa levelled matters seven minutes in the second half when off a cross by Oscar Guerrero, Gilbert Martin’s low shot was not held by Farrugia with the ball ending at the back of the net.
Two minutes later, the Stars took the lead when off a freekick by Guerrero from the left, Marcelo Pereira hit the crossbar from close range, the ball hit a defender and off the rebound, the Brazilian striker placed the ball at the back of the net.
Clive Spiteri came to the rescue for Vittoriosa on 68 minutes, clearing the ball of the goal line after Leighton Grech had anticipated Cini with a lob from the right. On the other side of the pitch, Oscar Guerrero had a close-range effort blocked into a corner by Farrugia on the 75th. Seven minutes later, Guerrero, served by Pereira, had a powerful shot from inside the area blocked by Farrugia. One minute from time, Triston Caruana went close to equalising with a freekick from the left which scraped past the post but in a swift counter-attack, Oscar Guerrero almost added another one for Vittoriosa when he concluded a good move with a fine rising shot which ended just over the bar.
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Alfred Effiong, Roderick Sammut, Giuseppe Bellucci, Leighton Grech (82′ Duncan Pisani), Roderick Bajada (69′ Triston Caruana), Joao Gabriel da Silva, Emerson Vella (73′ Gianluca Nucera), Owen Bugeja, Jonathan Bondin, Abudulai Issaka.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Karl Sciortino, Federico Santaguida, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Josef Manuseto
VITTORIOSA Sean Cini, Ousmane Sidibe, Adam Spiteri, Marcelo Pereira, Clive Spiteri, Jose Filipe Aguiar, Gilbert Martin (73′ Mark Barbara), Malcolm Buttigieg, Oscar Alvarado Guerrero, Seydou Bamba (33′ Francicso Arriagada Mella), Samir Arab (84′ Ryan Mifsud).
Subs not used: Laurence Cauchi, Justin Camilleri, Kurt Ellul.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Sidibe, Bellucci, Gabriel, Arriagada
Red Cards: 29′ Jose Filipe Aguiar
Scorers: 29′ Roderick Bajada pen (Q); 52′ Gilbert Martin (V); 54′ Marcelo Pereira (V)
BOV Player of the Match: Oscar Guerrero
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 421