Despite missing a penalty early in the game, Valletta still managed to hit six goals past Rabat Ajax as they registered a 6-1 win to move to just three points behind leaders Birkirkara although the Stripes have a game in hand.
The Magpies remain anchored at the bottom of the table with six points and have now gone twelve matches without a win.
Rabat had Romanian midfielder Sorin Oproiescu making his debut after making his first appearance in the U*BET FA Trophy. However they lacked Aidan Azzopardi, Dani Pelaez and Adam Smeir. Valletta lacked Jason Lee Vandelannoite, Luke Dimech and Denni Rocha dos Santos with Lateef Elford-Alliyu making his league debut after two appearances in the U*BET FA Trophy.
Malcolm Licari tried his luck after just a few seconds with a shot from outside the area hitting the crossbar.
Valletta had the opportunity to take the lead on 13 minutes when they were awarded a penalty by referee Glen Tonna. From the penalty spot, Lateef Elford-Alliyu’s effort was neutralised by Pavle Velimirovic.
The Citizens however managed to break the deadlock on 25 minutes thanks to Abdelkarim Nafti whose shot was deflected by a defender past the goalkeeper.
Three minutes later, Valletta doubled the score when off a freekick by Nafti, Lateef Elford-Alliyu’s headed hit the crossbar, the ball bounced onto the goalkeeper and into the net.
Velimirovic performed a good save on an Abdelkarim Nafti freekick on 33 minutes.
Two minutes from the end of the first half, the Magpies were awarded a penalty and from the penalty spot, Ryan Micallef made no mistake.
Four minutes in the second half, Valletta restored a two-goal goal thanks to Roderick Briffa who took advantage of an erratic clearance by Velimirovic and placed the ball at the back of the net with a perfect lob.
Edmond Agius made it 4-1 on 57 minutes with a powerful rising shot which gave the Rabat goalkeeper no chance.
Five minutes later, Valletta scored the fifth goal when off a quick-taken freekick, Abdelkarim Nafti served the unmarked Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza who hit home from close-range.
Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza added another goal on 69 minutes with a powerful shot when served by Shaun Bajada inside the area.
Velimirovic then performed two good saves – first on a Llywelyn Cremona close-range effort and then on a long-distance shot by Shaun Bajada.
VALLETTA Yenz Cini, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ryan Fenech, Edmond Agius (70′ Ian Azzopardi), Roderick Briffa, Hamza Barry (63′ Llywelyn Cremona), Aziz Corr Nyang, Shaun Bajada, Lateef Elford-Alliyu (39′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Abdelkarim Nafti.
Subs not used: Pietro Demetrio Marino, Ian Zammit, Oscar Reyes Sanchez, Dario Tabone.
Coach: Mark Miller
RABAT Pavle Velimirovic, Shaun Gauci (83′ Zachary Tanti), David Azzopardi, Dylan Falzon, Ivan Carapic, Patrick Borg, Diego Carrillo Pendas, Joseph Caruana, Ryan Micallef, Sorin Virgil Oproiescu, Malcolm Licari (59′ Jonathan Bajada).
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Kurt Muscat, Wayne Borg, Sacha Cortis, Etienne Scicluna.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Glenn Tonna
Assistant Referees: Paul Apap, Jurgen Spiteri
Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: R. Briffa, D. Falzon, S. Gauci
Scorers: 25′ Abdelkarim Nafti, 28′ Lateef Elford-Alliyu; 43′ Ryan Micallef; 49′ Roderick Briffa, 57′ Edmond Agius, 62′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, 69′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza
BOV Player of the Match: Abdelkarim Nafti
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 780
Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
Depite lacking several players, Hibernians returned to winning ways as they beat Floriana 4-0.
This fourth consecutive defeat was another blow for the Greens who still nurtured slim hopes of securing a place in the Championship Pool.
Hibernians had a depleted side as they lacked the suspended Bjorn Kristensen and Clayton Failla and the injured Mario Muscat, Andrew Cohen and Jean Paul Farrugia. Floriana, on the other hand, lacked Christian Caruana and Joseph Borg but welcomed back Andre Scicluna.
Hibernians took the lead on the 20th minute when Edison Luis dos Santos served Obinna Obiefule with a back pass and the Nigerian striker’s low diagonal shot ended at the back of the net.
Three minutes later, Obinna Obiefule doubled the score when he received a pass by Matthew Bartolo on the left and the Nigerian striker dribbled past Emmanuel Ibok Edet and beat Daniel Hanford with a low powerful shot.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, Floriana went close with a cross by Steve Pisani from the right, from which Igor Coronado’s effort was parried by Daniel Balzan.
Hibernians scored the third goal on 74 minutes when off a cross from the right by Jackson Lima, Edison Luis dos Santos headed the ball home past Daniel Hanford.
Five minutes later, Edison Luis dos Santos controlled a cross by Obiefule fromthe right and beat Hanford with a low shot.
Three minutes from time, Obinna Obiefule advanced’s advances on the left flank, when facing the keeper, Daniel Hanford blocks the ball before the Hibernians striker could do any damage.
FLORIANA Daniel Hanford, Andre Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Steve Pisani, Igor Coronado, Diogo Pinheiro de Sousa, Darrell Baldacchino, Clyde Borg, Brooke Farrugia (78’ Isaac Galea), Gary Muir, Dylan Kokavesiss (54’ Luca Casha).
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Sunday Eboh, Jonathan Xerri, Luke Micallef, Sacha Borg.
Coach: Ian Dawes
HIBS Daniel Balzan, Timothy Tabone Desira, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson Lima, Scott Chircop, Brandon Muscat, Zoran Levnajic, Matthew Bartolo (76’ Jurgen Degabriele), Edison Luis dos Santos (87’ Zachary Scerri), Obinna Obiefuele.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Dunstan Vella, Neil Falzon, Johann Bezzina, Aaron Hili.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Andrea Arciola
Yellow Cards: S. Chircop, J. Pearson, J. Degabriele
Scorers: 20’ Obinna Obiefuele, 23’ Obinna Obiefuele, 74’ Edison Luis dos Santos, 79’ Edison Luis dos Santos
BOV Player of the Match: Obinna Obiefuele
Attendance at the National Stadium: 468