Valletta earned their first three points in a 4-2 win over rivals Birkirkara at the National Stadium on Monday.
The Stripes took an early lead but Valletta turned the score in their favour within eleven minutes and although Birkirkara managed to equalise mid-way through the second half, the Citizens regained the lead a few minutes later, sealing the issue with another goal in added time.
Valletta had Mihailo Jovanovic, Leandro Aguirre and Taylon making their league debut while the young Eslit Sala was also named in the starting line-up as the Citizens lacked Jean Borg, Enmy Pena Beltre and Mario Fontanella. On the other hand, Birkirkara coach Andre Paus named his typical formation as they had no new players in the starting line-up.
Birkirkara managed to take the lead on the 7th minute when Guillaumier served Caio Henrique Prado on the right and off the latter’s assist, Federico Falcone hit low past Bonello.
However their joy was short-lived as a minute later, Valletta equalised when off a Joseph Zerafa cross from the left, Santiago Malano beat Hogg with a powerful header.
The Citizens turned the score in their favour on the 18th minute when off a fine cross by Eslit Sala, Kyrian Nwoko headed home past Hogg.
On the 64th minute, Matthew Guillaumier was brought down inside the area by Rowen Muscat for referee Philip Farrugia to award a penalty. Yannick Yankam blasted the ball past Bonello from the penalty spot to level matters.
Six minutes later, it was turn of Valletta to be awarded a penalty after Hogg floored Shaun Dimech. Leandro Aguirre’s effort from the penalty spot was partially saved by Hogg but the Argentinian hit home off the rebound to put the Citizens 3-2 ahead.
Four minutes in added time, in a swift counter-attack, Taisei Marukawa advanced on the right and served Matteo Piciollo who anticipated Hogg and placed the ball at the back of the net.
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana, Santiago Malano (65′ Taisei Marukawa), Taylon Correa (65′ Shaun Dimech), Kyrian Nwoko (83′ Matteo Piciollo), Eslit Sala, Nicholas Pulis (55′ Triston Caruana), Rowen Muscat, Leandro Aguirre (83′ Ryan Camilleri), Mihailo Jovanovic.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Ryan Tonna.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
B’KARA Andrew Hogg, Enrico Pepe, Matthew Guillaumier, Paul Mbong (80′ Luke Montebello), Yannick Yankam, Federico Falcone, Cain Attard (38′ Roderick Briffa), Claudio Bonanni, Caio Henrique Prado Rocha (80′ Kurt Zammit), Oscar Matias Carniello, Isaac Toah Ntow.
Subs not used: Miguel Spiteri, Adam Camilleri, Francesco Verde, Ryan Fenech.
Coach: Andre Paus
Asst. Coach: Jonathan Holland
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Slobodan Petrovic
Yellow Cards: Attard, Muscat, Hogg, Carniello, Dimech
BOV Player of the Match: Santiago Malano