Day 7: Valletta 3 Tarxien R 1
Valletta made it two wins in a row after seeing off Tarxien Rainbows 3-1 in today’s opening game at the National Stadium.
It was a deserved win for the Citizens who dominated the second half after Tarxien had briefly threatened to make a comeback in the latter stages of the first half.
Valletta were off to a strong start as they took a two-goal lead inside the opening 12 minutes but Tarxien came back strongly as the first half moved on.
Only three minutes had passed when Valletta nosed ahead. A fine interchange involving Abdelkarim Nafti, advancing in the inside-right channel, and Llywelyn Cremona opened up the Tarxien defence as the young midfielder turned before guiding the ball to the Tunisian who fired past Andrea Cassar from inside the area.
Nafti went close again but his drive was palmed away by Cassar.
Valletta doubled their lead on 12 minutes. Nafti’s corner from the right sailed towards the far post where Roderick Briffa’s flick was touched on by Priso and Tarxien’s Bruno Oliveira turned the ball into his own net in an attempt to clear.
Tarxien looked shell-shocked but they improved. They were back in the game on 21 minutes when Pedro’s cross, from a left-wing corner, was met by Montebello whose back-header flashed above Henry Bonello and into the far corner.
The Rainbows now took the game to Valletta. Just past the half-hour, Tarxien created a dangerous attack with Montebello running into the box before setting up Triston Caruana whose goalbound shot was kept out by Bonello. The loose ball dropped to Pedro but his effort was deflected before the Valletta defenders cleared the danger.
Hevia then sent in a teasing cross from the right that was saved in two attempts by Bonello. In first-half stoppage time, Valletta were incensed after being denied what they felt was a clear penalty when Oliveira appeared to catch Federico Falcone after the Argentine had slipped past the Tarxien defender but referee Clayton Pisani saw nothing wrong.
Valletta pushed forward when the second half got underway, winning three consecutive corners.
Cremona was just wide with a diagonal shot before Cassar blocked Nafti’s grounder.
The Whites continued to attack. Falcone’s swerving effort skimmed the crossbar after Cremona and Briffa combined to set up the Argentine.
Danilo, who replaced Hevia, hit a firm grounder towards goal but Bonello blocked.
Falcon than rifled over from close in after connecting with Priso’s cross.
Valletta ought to have restored their two-goal lead when, with 15 minutes left, Cremona darted his way into the box to get on the end of substitute Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza’s cross but the City midfielder was anticipated by Cassar.
Their frustration increased when, from Umeh’s cross, Nafti’s powerful header crashed against the underside of the crossbar and possibly landed beyond the goal-line but the match officials were unmoved.
Moments later, Tarxien’s Alex Alves was sent off after earning a second booking for halting Briffa’s run.
Three minutes from time, Valletta sealed the points thanks to Mifsud Triganza whose low strike from outside the box had the better of Cassar.
Minutes latter, the Tarxien goalkeeper denied Mifsud Triganza who had been teed up by Nafti.
Llywelyn Cremona, the Valletta midfielder, was named BOV player of the match.
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, R. Briffa, C. Pani, U. Calistus, J. Cruz Gill, I. Azzopardi, N. Priso (J. P. Mifsud Triganza), A. Nafti (J. Suda), L. Cremona, R. Camilleri, F. Falcone (A. Bruce).
TARXIEN R. – A. Cassar, E. Baker, M. Caruana (A. Azzopardi), B. Giglio De Oliviera, T. Caruana, L. Omeruo, C. Hevia Menendez (D. Santos), L. Montebello, D. Zerafa (B. Muscat), A. Da Paixao Alves, J. Pedro Oliviera Santos.
Scorers: 3′ A. Nafti (V), 13′ B. Giglio Oliviera (og), 21′ L. Montebello (T), 87′ J.P. Mifsud Triganza (V)
Yellow Cards: U. Calistus, A. Nafti (V), C. Hevia, L. Omeruo, A. Da Paixao Alves (T)
Red Cards: A. Da Paixao Alves (T)
Man of Match: Llywelyn Cremona (V)
Referee: C. Pisani