UBet FA Trophy – Valletta 1 Naxxar 0
Denni’s early penalty settled this lacklustre U*Bet FA Trophy quarter-final as Valletta edged past Naxxar Lions to set up a semi-final match against the winner of tomorrow’s game between Gzira United and Rabat Ajax.
Valletta were in control for most of the first half but their failure to add to their lead left the result in the balance as Naxxar Lions tried to fight back in the second half.Valletta dictated matters from the outset.
Inside the opening two minutes, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza hit a long-range shot that almost surprised Naxxar goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi who saved in two attempts.Denni was high with a rising effort as Valletta maintained their early pressure.
Azzopardi thwarted Valletta on 10 minutes when beating away Hamza Barry’s belter after the Gambian midfield had drifted in from the left.Naxxar had their glimpse of Valletta’s goal when Serbian midfielder Filip Stojanovic guided a good pass to Terrence Scerri who forced his way into the box but the towering forward took a touch too many and was eventually dispossessed.
Midway into the second half, Valletta took the lead. They were awarded a penalty after Irish referee Robert Harvey deemed that Mattia Del Negro had darted into Denni as the latter sped into the box. The Naxxar defender needed medical attention after landing awkwardly but the pause failed to unnerve Denni who drove the ball into the left corner.
Valletta almost doubled their lead a second five minutes later. Abayomi Owonikoko’s run into the box had Naxxar on the back foot but the blue-shirted players managed to stop him only for Mifsud Triganza to pass to Denni whose low effort came off against the base of the post.
Late in the first half, Naxxar had a half-chance when Scerri, again released by Stojanovic, managed to get a shot through the pressing City defenders but his effort was wide.Subdued in the first half, Naxxar showed signs of improvement as the start of the second half.
Twelve minutes into the game, Valletta debutant Vladimir Rassulov powered into the box from the left before squaring to Luke Montebello, another second-half substitute, but the young striker’s shot was blocked by David Alejandro Reano. Denni had a shot beaten away by Azzopardi but it was Naxxar who came close to an equaliser 19 minutes into the second half.
Raimi Bakare’s cross from the left soared into the box and Scerri burst through but his close-range effort was pushed away by the alert Revishvili.At the other end, Roderick Briffa went close with a curling free-kick that sailed over the bar.
VALLETTA – N. Revishvili, J. Caruana, S. Borg, R. Fenech, R. Briffa, H. Barry (E. Agius), S. Bajada, O. Abayomi Seun (V. Rassulov), J. P. Mifsud Triganza (L. Montebello), I. Masuradze, D. Dos Santos.
NAXXAR – J. Azzopardi, R. Bakare, A. Buhagiar, R. Cassar, G. Da Silva Ribeiro, A. Decesare, M. Del Negro (D. Falzon), T. Lopez Souza, D. Reano, T. Scerri, F. Stojanovic (A. Rocha Da Silva)
Date: 15.02.14 Time: 14:00 Venue: National Stadium
Yellow Cards: Thiago, Reano, Stajanovic, Rocha Da Silva (N)
Scorers: 24′ Denni Rocha Dos Santos
Referee: Robert Harvey (Ireland)