Floriana were the first team to lift the new FA Trophy after defeating Old Firm rivals and holders Sliema Wanderers 2-0 in the 79th edition of the knock-out competition at the National Stadium on Saturday. The Greens therefore won the FA Trophy for the 20th time while for the Blues, who had won the FA Trophy 21 times, this was also the 21st time they ended as losing finalists.
This triumph means that Floriana will be representing Malta in the UEFA Europa League along with Balzan and Valletta while champions Hibernians will be representing Malta in the UEFA Champions League.
The team led by Giovanni Tedesco had an edge over their opponents, creating the better chances throughout the ninety minutes and after taking an early lead, it was only in stoppage time that they sealed the issue with a second goal. Their first silverware in six years after winning the FA Trophy back in 2011.
Floriana had a perfect start taking the lead on the 4th minute when off a Maurizio Vella freekick from the left, Enzo Ruiz headed the ball home past goalkeeper Giuseppe Sarao.
The Greens went close to doubling the score on the 33rd minute when Mario Fontanella received an inviting through pass but his conclusion scraped past the post. Two minutes later, Enzo Ruiz’s freekick was deflected into a corner by Sarao.
On the 64th minute, Steve Pisani managed to beat the Sliema goalkeeper with a diagonal shot from the left but Fontanella was in a clear offside position. The goal was disallowed – a decision which brought harsh protests by the Floriana players.
Ten minutes later, the Wanderers missed an excellent chance when off an assist from the right by John Mintoff, Mark Scerri failed to connect from close range. Steve Pisani went close for the Greens with a fine shot on the 80th minute.
Two minutes from time, Sliema could have forced extra-time but Jean Paul Farrugia headed wide with the open goal at his mercy following an inviting cross by Frank Temile from the right.
However three minutes in added time, Floriana sealed the issue with a second goal when Steve Pisani managed to serve substitute Clyde Borg on the right flank and the latter advanced before slotting the ball past the Sliema goalkeeper.
A fight broke out on the field of play before the presentation of the Trophy after a Florianite went to provoke the Sliema players and supporters with two huge numbers 20 in cardboard.
Finally MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo presented the new trophy, designed by world-renowned trophy maker and silversmiths Thomas Lyte, to Floriana captain Nicolas Chiesa.
FLORIANA Justin Haber, Andre Scicluna, Enrico Pepe, Enzo Ruiz, Steve Pisani, Ignacio Varela, Sebastian Nayar, Maurizio Vella (72′ Alex Cini), Nicolas Chiesa (86′ Clyde Borg), Mario Fontanella, Ryan Camenzuli.
Subs not used: Matthew Grech, Mattia Zarb, Jurgen Pisani, Jake Stenson, Zach Camilleri.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
SLIEMA Giuseppe Sarao, Denni Rocha dos Santos (31′ John Mintoff), Jonathan Pearson, Alex Muscat, Ricardo Calixto Correa Duarte, Jean Paul Farrugia, Frank Temile, Matias Muchardi (81′ Ryan Spiteri), Mark Scerri, Leonardo Incorvaia (67′ Peter Xuereb), Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Miguel Bonnici, Michele Sansone, Gabriel Aquilina, Luca Martinelli.
Coach: John Buttigieg
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Jurgen Spiteri
Additional Assistant Referees: Fyodor Zammit, Mario Apap
Fourth Official: Peter Abela
Yellow Cards: Sarao, Varela, Incorvaia, Vella, Scerri, Correa