Valletta joined Hibernians in second place on fourteen points as they returned to winning ways, beating Gzira United 3-1 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on Saturday.
The Citizens had four changes from the team which drew with Birkirkara as Leandro Aguirre, Ryan Camilleri, Uchenna Umeh and Santiago Malano replaced Ian Azzopardi, Juan Cruz Gill, Romeu Romao and Jean Borg. The Maroons, on the other hand, had goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi making his debut. Apart from Jurgen Borg, Joceano Baiano, Liliu and Robert were replaced by Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Juan Corbalan and Yanis Tonna.
Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao put Valletta ahead on the 7th minute thanks to a diagonal shot from the left which beat goalkeeper Jamie Azzopardi.
The Citizens doubled the score on the 24th minute thanks to a penalty by Federico Falcone after he was fouled inside the area by Diamoutene.
On the 61st minute, Gzira went closeto reducing the gap when Moises Avila Perez’s first-time effort off a corner by Yanis Tonna hit the crossbar.
Twelve minutes from time, goalkeeper Henry Bonello was adjudged to have fouled an opponent inside the area; referee Keith Kennedy ordered a penalty and sent off the Valletta goalkeeper but from the penalty spot, Moises Avila Perez’s effort was neutralised by young substitute goalkeeper Maverick Buhagiar.
However Gzira were not to be denied on the 82nd minute when off a cross from the right, Antonio de Queiroz Machedo Neto headed home past Buhagiar.
Deep into stoppage time, Valletta sealed the issue with a third goal thanks to substitute Jean Borg, who slotted the ball past Azzopardi, following an assist from the right.
GZIRA Jamie Azzopardi, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino (66′ Rafael Ledesma), Gianmarco Conti, Antonio de Queiroz Machedo Neto, Juan Carlos Corbalan, Jonathan Bondin (82′ Karl Pulo), Moises Avila Perez, Jacob Borg, Zachary Scerri, Souleymane Diamoutene, Yanis Tonna (65′ Robert de Pinho de Souza).
Subs not used: Kyle Gerada, John Nwoba, Dyson Falzon, Salvatore Grixti.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Santiago Malano (67′ Llywelyn Cremona), Valdo Goncalves Alhinho, Federico Matias Falcone, Claudio Pani, Uchenna Calistus Umeh (80′ Maverick Buhagiar gk), Leandro Aguirre, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao (86′ Jean Borg).
Subs not used: Ian Azzopardi, Michael Mifsud, Jean Borg, Jurgen Suda, Nicholas Pulis.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Keith Kennedy (NIR)
Assistant Referees: Keith Gillespie, Joseph Wilson (NIR)
Fourth Official: Neil Robinson (NIR)
Yellow Cards: Alhinho, Caruana, Camilleri, Tony, Pulo
Scorers: 7′ Jhonnattann, 24′ Federico Falcone, 82′ Tony, 90+3′ Jean Borg
BOV Player of the Match: Jhonnattann
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 765
Hibernians maintained a three-point lead over Floriana after the two teams shared the spoils in a goaless draw at the Hibernians Stadium.
Floriana had four changes from the team which lost to Sliema as Andre Scicluna, Clyde Borg, Ryan Camenzuli and Amadou Samb replaced Mario Fontanella, Ignacio Varela, Steve Pisani and the suspended Enzo Ruiz. Hibs, on the other hand, had Juan Manuel Varea replacing Johann Bezzina. Also missing for the Paolites was Clayton Failla.
Both sides had their fair share of scoring opportunities during the first half with Hibs going close with a low shot by Juan Manuel Varea after just two minutes and after a Antonio Monticelli header just missed the post for Floriana, Kristensen headed just over over the bar. Hogg then neutralised attempts attempts by Chiesa and Samb. Just before half-time, Samb just missed the post with a fine header.
The Greens held the initiative after the break and Hogg neutralised another header by Samb and then Fontanella went close on the 68th, off a cross by Chiesa.
FLORIANA Justin Haber, Andre Scicluna, Antonio Monticelli, Enrico Pepe, Clyde Borg (66’ Steve Pisani), Maurizio Vella, Jurgen Pisani, Alex Cini, Amadou Samb, Nicolas Chiesa, Ryan Camenzuli (46’ Mario Fontanella).
Subs not used: Matthew Grech, Jake Davies, Ignacio Varela, Brooke Farrugia, Daniel Agius.
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Rodolfo Soares (67’ Jonathan Pearson), Marcelo Dias, Jackson da Lima Siqueira, Bjorn Kristensen, Jorge da Silva Pereira, Renan Pimenta Telles, Jurgen Degabriele, Joseph Mbong, Juan Manuel Varea (71’ Dunstan Vella), Andrei Agius.
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Andrew Cohen, Daniel Buckle, David Xuereb, Conner Zammit.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Lima, Scicluna, J. Pisani, Kristensen, Chiesa, Samb, Cini
BOV Player of the Match: Jackson de Lima Siqueira
Attendance atthe Hibernians Stadium: 1,061
Renato Vella reporting from the Hibernians Stadium