A goal by Marcelo Pereira towards the end of the first half enabled Vittoriosa Stars to return to winning ways as they beat Rabat Ajax to move ninth.
For Rabat, this was the seventeenth defeat in twenty-one matches, leaving them anchored at the bottom of the table with just six points.
Vittoriosa had goalkeeper Mario Muscat making his debut after joining the club from Hibernians. They lacked Malcolm Buttigieg. On the other hand, the suspended Dani Pelaez was missing for Rabat.
Although Rabat held the initiative in the early stages, the Stars had the first attempt at goal on the 17th minute when Francisco Arriagada Mella tried his luck with a lob from midfield following an erratic clearance by Velimirovic but the ball ended wide. A minute later, Rabat replied with a fine curved shot by Diego Carrillo which scraped past the post.
Velimirovic tipped into a corner a long-distance shot by Arriagada and then Mario Muscat turned in to a corner a Diego Carrillo freekick on 40 minutes. In a swift-counter-attack for Vittoriosa, a minute later, Guerrero served Pereira on the left and the latter’s low shot was neutralised by the Rabat custodian.
Vittoriosa took the lead two minutes from the end of the first half when a Gilbert Martin cross shot from the left was blocked by Velimirovic and off the rebound, Marcelo Pereira headed the ball home.
In added time, Velimirovic turned into another corner a Siraj Arab effort from outside the area.
Three minutes in the second half, Mario Muscat deflected into a corner a well-taken freekick by Diego Carrillo from the left. On the 53rd, following a corner by Carrillo, there was a short clearance and Joseph Caruana’s low shot from outside the area hit the foot of the upright. On the other side of the pitch, a fierce shot by Oscar Guerrero sailed past the post.
A shot by Diego Carrillo, deflected by Sidibe, forced Muscat to a difficult save into a corner on the 77th minute. Six minutes later, a good shot by Gilbert Martin was turned into a corner by Velimirovic. From the resulting corner, Ousame Sidibe’s close-range header was neutralised by the Rabat custodian. Four minutes from time, Velimirovic came to the rescue once again blocking into a corner a shot from the right by Marcelo Pereira.
RABAT Pavle Velimirovic, Shaun Gauci, David Azzopardi, Ivan Carapic, Dylan Falzon (87′ Wayne Borg), Joseph Caruana, Jonathan Bajada, Sorin Oproiescu, Malcolm Licari (74′ Adam Smeir), Ryan Micallef, Diego Carrillo Pendas.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Patrick Borg, Zachary Tanti, Aidan Azzopardi, Chris Vella.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
VITTORIOSA Mario Muscat, Clive Brincat, Samir Arab, Gilbert Martin (89′ Ryan Mifsud), Oscar Guerrero (73′ Federico Santaguida), Francisco Arrigada Mella, Siraj Arab (64′ Carl Sammut), Marcelo Pereira, Jose Filipe Aguiar, Luke Vella Critien, Ousmane Sidibe.
Subs not used: Sean Cini, Michael Camilleri, Clive Spiteri, Liam Gauci.
Asst. Coach: Jean Paul Desira
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: Carapic, Bajada, Martin, Santaguida
Scorers: 43′ Marcelo Pereira
BOV Player of the Match: Gilbert Martin