Day 25 Valletta 2 Sliema W. 0 Published on: 24-03-2012

Valletta made the most of Hibs' slip-up as they defeated Sliema Wanderers 2-0 to go three points clear at the top of the table.

Coming from a 1-1 draw with Birkirkara, Valletta had been under pressure to rediscover their winning touch but their spirits were boosted after Hibs, their title rivals, went down to Birkirkara in the opening game.

The champions were unable to find a way past the Sliema defence and their inspirational goalkeeper Henry Bonello but Aleksandars Cekulajevs came off the bench to put them ahead before William Barbosa made sure of the points in stoppage time.

Three minutes from the start of the game had passed when Gilbert Agius's cross from the right was headed back by Zongo but Denni's attempt was blocked by Nikola Bogdanovic.

Valletta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg then saved a central shot by Grech.The champions should have gone ahead when Agius sent a through pass to Zongo but the Burkina Faso winger fired wide with only Sliema goalkeeper Henry Bonello to beat.

At the other end, Emiliano Lattes's cross from a left-wing free-kick sailed dangerously towards the far post before the apprehensive City defenders cleared the ball away for a corner.Bonello then denied Valletta a goal when tipping Agius's volley over the bar after the latter had been teed up by Saidou Mady Panandetiguiri.

Despite enjoying a welter of possession, Valletta were largely ineffective in the attacking phase.

On the half-hour, they had another good chance to open the scoring when the recalled Terrence Scerri pulled clear of his marker to connect with Agius's cross but his diagonal effort was pushed away by the alert Bonello.Just when it looked as though the first half would end goalless, Valletta had an excellent chance to go ahead.

They were awarded a penalty after Rumen Galabov tripped Denni after the Bulgarian had lost possession to the Brazilian inside the box.William Barbosa stepped up to take the penalty but his angled effort was palmed away by Bonello who made a fine save to keep Sliema level.In the opening minutes of the second half, Sliema's Ryan Fenech made his way into Valletta's box but fired over.

Moments later, Hogg had to run off his line to kick the ball away from the onrushing Cilia who was clean through.On the hour, the Valletta coach brought on Aleksandars Cekulajevs for Zongo and switched to 4-4-2.Valletta should have taken the lead when Agius's through-pass, played through the middle, rolled towards the unmarked Scerri in the box but the City forward was twice denied by the exfellent Bonello.

The Blues let out a sigh of relief but their reprieve was temporary. On 64 minutes, Denni broke clear as the Sliema defenders were caught off guard but the Brazilian's drive was parried away by Bonello only for Cekulajevs to stab the loose ball into the net.

One goal up, Valletta seemed content to preserve their lead for the remainder of the match as Sliema hardly threatened despite their bold efforts to push forward.In stoppage time, Argentine midfielder Nahuel Pulitano Jimenez, who had replaced Denni, swapped passes with Agius before firing a shot that dropped wide of the far post.

Valletta sealed the three points at the death, William Barbosa drifting into the box before drilling his shot past Bonello.

Henry Bonello was named BOV player of the match.


VALLETTA - A. Hogg, D. Dos Santos (N. Pulitano Jimenez), J. Caruana, I. Azzopardi, O. Zongo (A. Cekulajevs), S. Panandetiguiri,  W. Barbosa, T. Scerri, S. Borg, R. Bajada G. Agius.

SLIEMA W. - H. Bonello, B. Muscat (A. Decesare), C. Frendo (A. Caligari), R. Fenech, E. Lattes, A. Muscat, R. Grech, N. Bogdanovic, T. Cilia, R. Galabov, J. Ani.

BOV Premier League
Date: 24-03-12     Time: 16:00    Venue: National Stadium

Scorers: 65' Aleksandars Cekulajevs, 92' William Barbosa

Yellow Cards:  S. Panandeguiri, A. Hogg
Man of Match: Henry Bonello (S)

Referee: Esther Azzopardi