Day 4 Valletta 1 Qormi 0
Valletta’s Abdelkarim Nafti scored a last-gasp goal of sheer brilliance to earn his side a hard-fought victory over Qormi.
A cohesive Valletta move opened up the Qormi defence on 10 minutes. Hamza Barry laid the ball to the advancing Abdelkarim Nafti who came in flying to volley goalwards from the edge of the box but the ball cannoned off Matthew Farrugia’s hands onto the bar and away to safety.
In their first telling inroad into Valletta’s half just after the half hour mark, Effiong exploiting acres of open space on the right flank, before intelligently releasing Roderick Bajada who turned well in the box before his efforts was twice blocked in quick succession first by Barry and then by Jason Vandelannoite. Bajada was at the core mof most of the Qormi’s moves, proving himself as an influential player in an advanced roaming role.
The rhythm of the game largely subdued as Valletta struggled to make an impact in attack and rarely troubled the Qormi’s defence. In fact, they had to wait until the 43rd minuted before they recorded a genuine attempt but Roderick Sammut bravely dispossessed the goalbound Roderick Briffa with a timely tackle.
Volpi sensing that their opponents were having problems to find their usual fluency, introduced the Jorginho for Gianluca Nucera at the start of the second half.
The Brazilian took just five minutes to dispel any doubts about his form and fitness after an absence of a year from the local scene. Effiong charged towards the by-line before swiftly transferring the ball to Jorginho at the centre. The striker lopped the ball over the stranded Pietro Marino but crashed against the post.
Valletta not only lacked their usual flair, they also looked devoid of fighting spirit. They were only dangerous on set-pieces with Nafti. In the 62nd minute, the Tunisian midfielder hit an in-swinger which ounced on the far side of goal with Farrugia helpless.
Qormi continued to play better than their opponents and five minutes from time, Jorginho’s cross sailed towards the unmarked Effiong whose close-range header was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Marino.
With the game destined for a draw, Nafti sprinted into the box, slipped past substitute Jonathan Bondin and summoned an audacious chip that soared beyond Farrugia and into the far corner of the net.
It was tough for Qormi who did not have enough time to recover.
VALLETTA – P. Marino, R. Fenech, R. Briffa, A. Corr Nyang (E. Agius) , H. Barry (R. Antoneli), D. Falzon, I. Zammit (J. P. Mifsud Triganza) , J. Caruana, J. Vandelannoite, A. Nafti, L. Dimech.
QORMI – M. Farrugia, A. Effiong, R. Sammut, R. Bajada, T. Caruana, G. Nucera (J. Pereira da Silva), E. Vella, O. Bugeja, D. Pisani, R. Innocenti, F. D’Aniello (L. Del Giudece).
Date: 15-09-13 Time: 19:00 Venue: National Stadium
Yellow Cards: A.Effiong, F. D’Aniello (Q), J. Vandelannoite (V)
Scorers: 90′ Abdelkarim Nafti
Man of Match: O. Bugeja (Q)
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi