After losing five of their first six matches, Pietà Hotspurs bounced back in style as they registered their first, turning defeat into victory to beat champions Valletta 2-1. A win which enables the Hotspurs to leapfrog Zebbug and Naxxar, moving third from bottom.
For the Citizens, this was a highly disappointing result after two fine wins over Sliema and Qormi in thir last two outings. They lie eight points behind leaders HIbernians wo however have a game in hand.
Valletta coach Gilbert Agius named Hamza Barry and Luke Montebello in the starting line-up as they lacked Hugo Faria and Lateef Elford-Alliyu. Jonathan Caruana and Steve Borg were still ruled out injured. Cain Attard, Orosco Anonam and Gabriel da Silva were left out of the starting line-up for Pietà as coach Noel Coleiro included Cleaven Cassar, Terence Agius and Nikola Tasic.
The Hotspurs went close with a cross by Claudio Frances on the 6th mintue from which Rafael Xavier’s header was cleared off the goal line by Luke Dimech. Roderick Briffa tried his luck with a powerful drive from outside the area and on the 32nd minute, a corner by Ryan Fenech almost surprised goalkeeper David Cassar who held the ball on the goal line.
Thirteen minutes in the second half, off a cross by Roderick Briffa, there was an overhead kick by Alex Terra and Luke Montebello headed just wide.
The Citizens forged ahead on the hour thanks to a Hamza Barry whose powerful shot gave the Pietà goalkeeper no chance following a cross by Llywelyn Cremona.
Two minutes later, Raphael Kooh Sohna almost doubled the score with a close-range header following a cross from the right but Cassar saved in two attempts.
However on the 68th minute, Pietà levelled matters thanks to substitute Joao Gabriel da Silva who managed to slot the ball past goalkeeper Nicky Vella when served inside the area.
David Cassar came to the rescue, turning into a corner a fine Luke Dimech effort on the 81st minute. Seven minutes later, Rafael Xavier was unlucky to hit the woodwork for Pietà.
Pietà notched the winner on the 90th when Rafael Xavier advanced on the left, anticipating Nicky Vella with a perfect lob before placing the ball inside the empty net.
VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Ian Azzopardi (46′ Shaun Bajada), Ryan Camilleri, Ryan Fenech, Roderick Briffa, Luke Montebello (74′ Abdelkarim Nafti), Hamza Barry, Llywelyn Cremona, Adrian Zahra (57′ Raphael Kooh Sohna), Alex Barboza Terra, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Hamid Ismael Al Kamali, Daniel Camilleri, Ian Zammit.
Coach: Gilbert Agius
PIETÀ David Cassar, Cleaven Cassar (74′ Luke Micallef), Christian Grech, Leonardo Fortunato dos Santos, Jurgen Pisani, Rafael Rodrigues da Silva, Nikola Tasic (64′ Joao Gabriel da Silva), Kyle Cesare (58′ Cain Attard), Terence Agius, Claudio Daniel Frances, Rafael Xavier Zacarias.
Subs not used: Dylan Galea, Dylan Agius, Karl Micallef, Neil Pace Cocks.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Tasic, Barry, Cesare, Xavier
Scorers: 60′ Hamza Barry, 68′ Gabriel da Silva, 90′ Rafael Xavier
BOV Player of the Match: Hamza Barry
Attendance at National Stadium: 1,005
At the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Qormi brought their disappointing run to an end with an emphatic 4-0 win over Mosta. Qormi had, in fact, gone five matches without victory.
For Mosta, on the other hand, this was a second consecutive defeat after losing to Birkirkara during the weekend.
Mosta had one change from the team which lost to Birkirkara as Pedro Calcado replaced the suspended Bojan Kaljevic. Portuguese midfielder Fabio Paim made his debut for Mosta when he was included as a substitute. Qormi, on the other hand, welcomed back Mauricio Mazzetti and Emerson Vella. They were included in the starting line-up along with Bjorn Bondin, replacing Albert Bruce, Roderick Sammut and Steve Agius.
Following a goalless first half, Qormi managed to break the deadlock three minutes after the break when Joseph Chetcuti served Emerson Vella who placed the ball in the far corner with a fierce shot.
Frank Temile doubled the score on 55 minutes when he chested the ball down before hitting hard past the Mosta goalkeeper.
Alfred Effiong took full advantage of a mistake in midfield on the 61st minute as he advanced upfield before slotting the ball past Bernal for Qormi’s third goal.
Two minutes later, Joseph Chetcuti sent Frank Temile through and the latter advanced into the area before hitting home.
Five minutes from time, Qormi could have added another but Pietro Viggiani had a fine effort turned into a corner in style by Marcus Bernal.
MOSTA Marcus Bernal, Tyrone Farrugia, Manolito Micallef, Jonas Rodriguez Ekani, Adrian Borg, Dyson Falzon (42’ Kurt Zammit), Ryan Grech, Nemanja Milovanovic (54’ Fabio Paim), Kurt Magro Daniel Mariano Bueno, Pedro Calcado.
Subs not used: Emanuel Borg, Mark Brincat, Ismael Grech, James Brincat, Kyle Frendo.
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Bjorn Bondin, Anderson Michele Quatrochi Santos, Joseph Chetcuti (80’ Carmelo Farrugia), Duncan Pisani, Jonathan Bondin, Maurizio Matias Latini Mazzetti, Zoran Levnaic, Emerson Vella (73’ Steve Agius), Alfred Effiong (77’ Pietro Viggiani), Frank Temile.
Subs not used: Jurgen Cilia, Alessio Cassar, Gilmore Azzopardi, Karl Sciortino.
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: E. Vella, Temile, Paim
Scorers: 48’ Emerson Vella, 55’ Frank Temile, 61’ Alfred Effiong, 63′ Frank Temile
BOV Player of the Match: Alfred Effiong
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 583