Valletta keep pace with leaders after comfortable derby win

Valletta kept the pace with leaders Hibernians as they defeated neighbours Floriana 4-1 to register a sixth successive win ahead of next week’s top-of-the-table clash with the Paolites.

A goal by Lateef Elford-Alliyu after hardly two minutes paved the way for the Citizens who manage to add another two goals before the end of the first half. Elford-Alliyu ended up notching a hat-trick for the team led by Ivan Zammit.

Valletta had no changes from the team which defeated Tarxien Rainbows 6-0 last week. Floriana, on the other hand, had Rodrigo Felix Aguiar replacing Amadou Samb while Tyrone Gauci, once again, started in goal after making his debut last week.

The Citizens had a perfect start, taking the lead on the 2nd minute thanks to a Lateef Elford-Alliyu headed off a cross from the left.

Lateef Elford Alliyu doubled the score on 41 minutes when off a cross by Abdelkarim Nafti, the Nigerian-born striker headed the ball home past Gauci.

Just before half-time, Valletta sealed the issue with a third goal as Abdelkarim Nafti latched on a pass by Hamza Barry hitting home from close range.

Floriana went close to reducing the gap on 54 minutes with an overhead kick by Steve Bonnici but the ball was turned into a corner by Nicky Vella.

However on the hour, Valletta increased the lead further as Lateef Elford-Alliyu converted a penalty which referee Philip Farrugia awarded for a hands by Clyde Borg inside the area.

A Gary Muir freekick for Floriana scraped past the post on the 75th but one minute later, they scored a consolation goal through Vito Plut who lobbed the ball over Nicky Vella from the edge of the area.

VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Jonathan Caruana (76′ Raphael Kooh Sohna), Ian Azzopardi, Steve Borg (55′ Luke Dimech), Ryan Camilleri, Ryan Fenech, Roderick Briffa, Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Hamza Barry, Shaun Bajada, Abdelkarim Nafti (62′ Hugo Faria).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Luke Montebello, Llywelyn Cremona, Christian Caruana.
Coach: Gilbert Agius

FLORIANA Tyrone Gauci, Rodrigo Felix Aguiar, Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo (46′ Amadou Samb), Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Vito Plut, Matteo Piciollo, Emanuel Briffa, Brooke Farrugia (46′ Conor Borg), Gary Muir, Steve Bonnici.
Subs not used: Andrew Zammit, Luke Micallef, Neil Spiteri, Giovanni Galea, Sacha Borg.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco

Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, David Castillo
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: Piciollo, Caruana, Clyde Borg, Samb
BOV Player of the Match: Hamza Barry
Attendance: 1,760