Day 30: Valletta 3 Sliema W 3
Valletta and Sliema Wanderers shared the spoils in a thrilling 3-3 draw that leaves Hibs on the brink of winning the title.
The Citizens needed a win to keep Hibs waiting for another week but they could only manage a point after twice coming from behind.
The draw means that Hibs, now eight points clear of Valletta with a game in hand, will wrap up the title if they beat Floriana on Saturday.
Sliema Wanderers opened the scoring after 17 seconds thanks to Brazilian striker Mateus whose angled grounder caught Valletta goalkeeper Pietro Marino by surprise.
It was not long before Valletta equalised. Abdelkarim Nafti was in the right place to received Roderick Briffa’s excellent pass before lifting his shot over Glenn Zammit in the Sliema goal.
The rhythm dropped slightly after this early burst. Sliema protested for a penalty when Mark Scerri went down under the challenge of Jonathan Caruana but Latvian referee Vadims Fugla allowed play to continue.
On the half-hour, Valletta had a great chance to forge ahead as Caruana’s excellent pass fell invitingly to Lateef Elford Alliyu but the English forward’s effort was pushed away by Zammit. Llywelyn Cremona then fired high from outside the box.
The Blues were also dangerous when Brazilian Pedrinho swept past a host of City players but his attempt was deflected away fror a corner.
On the stroke of half-time, Zammit saved Steve Borg’s header from Nafti’s free-kick but Valletta headed for the half-time break in the lead after Ryan Camilleri scored with a thumping volley.
Six minutes into the second half, Sliema’s Trevor Cilia tried his luck from the distance but his drive that sailed wide of the post.
Valletta were now passing the ball better but Sliema equalised close to the hour.
Pedrinho won a free-kick deep into Valletta’s half and his set-piece cross triggered a melee with Marko Potezica applying the final touch.
The game opened up.
Sliema nosed ahead on 63 minutes when Pedrinho, running into the box to receive Mateus’s return pass, flicked the ball past the stumbling Marino.
Valletta took five minutes to equalise, Briffa slotting past Zammit after receiving from Nafti.
The two teams continued to attack but they couldn’t find a winner as the game ended three-all.
Valletta’s Abdelkarim Nafti was voted BOV player of the match.
VALLETTA – P. Marino, J. Caruana, R. Camilleri, A. Nafti, I. Hillary (H. Al Kamali), R. Briffa, S. Borg, R. Fenech, L. Elford, L. Cremona (J. Suda), S. Bajada (D. Tabone).
SLIEMA W: G. Zammit, A. Muscat, A. Scozzese, M. Scerri (J. Borg), C. Gatt Baldacchino, M. Dos Santos Ribiero, M. Potezica, T. Cilia, A. Friggieri (P. Xuereb), P. Dos Santos Calcado, D. Bocar (F. Tolato).
Scorers: 1′ M. Ribiero dos Santos (S), 5′ A. Nafti (V), 47′ R. Camilleri (V), 60′ M. Potezica (S), 64′ P. Dos Santos Calcado (S), 68′ R. Briffa (V)
Yellow Cards: R. Camilleri, R. Fenech (V) D. Bocar, T. Cilia (S)
Man of Match: A. Nafti (V)
Referee: V. Direktorenko (LAT)