Valletta return to winning ways

With a goal late in the first half and another just before the final whistle, champions Valletta defeated Naxxar Lions 2-0 to return to winning ways after suffering two defeats in their previous two outings.

A win which puts the Citizens on level points with Qormi and Mosta. Naxxar, on the other hand, remain second from bottom, still chasing their first win.

The Citizens had three changes from the team which lost to Birkirkara as Ian Azzopardi, Abdelkarim Nafti and Raphael Kooh Sohna replaced Shaun Bajada, the suspended Luke Dimech and the injured Alex Terra. Naxxar, on the other hand, welcomed back Angus Buhagiar after serving a two-match ban and Sidney da Silva after recovering from a long-term injury. With Pablo Doffo still ruled out injured, they replaced Edafe Uzeh and the suspended Andrew Scicluna.

Valletta had the first attempt at goal on the 3rd minute with Ryan Fenech concluding just wide. Naxxar replied with a Gilmar through pass for Daren Falzon who anticipated the goalkeeper with a low shot which however ended wide. Naxxar goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi performed a good save on Kooh Sohna following a cross by Azzopardi on 27 minutes and seven minutes later, Nicky Vella turned into a corner a half-volley by Pape Gueye.

Valletta took the lead on the 40th when off a cross by Abdelkarim Nafti, Raphael Kooh Sohna anticipated the on rushing Azzopardi with a lob with the ball ending at the back of the net.

Ten minutes in the second half, Valletta were reduced to ten men after Hugo Faria reined a second yellow card for a foul on Gilmar.

Naxxar had a good opportunity to equalise when Pape Gueye’s shot, served by Cassar, sailed along the goal line but their was no one to connect.

Steve Borg came to the rescue for the Citizens clearing off the goal line an Emenike first time effort on the 79th minute. One minute later, substitute Ian Zammit surprised Azzopardi with a shot from midfield but the ball hit the side netting.

Two minutes in added time, Valletta doubled the score thanks to a direct freekick from a central position by Shaun Bajada which ended in the right hand corner.


VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Ryan Fenech, Hugo Faria, Raphael Alain Kooh Sohna (74′ Ian Zammit), Roderick Briffa, Hamza Barry (78′ Llywelyn Cremona), Abdelkarim Nafti (68′ Shaun Bajada).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Luke Montebello, Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Adrian Zahra.
Coach: Gilbert Agius

NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Sidney Fraga Nery da Silva (71′ Victor Bellia), Terrence Vella (72′ Uchenna Mbachu Emenike), Mattia Del Negro, Pape Gueye, Daren Falzon, Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Ryan Gilmour Cassar (78′ Duane Bonnici), Angus Buhagiar, David Alejandro Reano.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Yaron Sammut, Jurgen Debono, Ryan Mercieca.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa

Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant referees: Chris Francalanza, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Faria, Fenech, Reano
Red Cards: 55′ Hugo Faria
Scorers: 40’ Raphael Kooh Sohna 90+2′ Shaun Bajada
BOV Player of the Match: Roderick Briffa