FA Trophy: Valletta 3 Xewkija 1
As expected, Valletta moved to the fourth round of the FA Trophy with a convincing 3-1 win over Gozitan champions Xewkija Tigers, yesterday.
All the goals of the encounter were scored during the first period as Valletta confirmed the good moment of form they’re in, a run that saw them taking sole leadership in the Premier League standings before the Christmas recess.
Central defender Diego Douglas Balbinot made his debut for the Citizens who now play rivals Birkirkara in the next round.
Xewkija’s elimination means no Gozitan team will figure in the Last 16 of the competition as the Tigers suffered a third consecutive defeat in the space of ten days.
This cup tie was originally scheduled to be played at the main stadium on the sister island. However, venue was shifted in the afternoon to the artificial turf pitch of the Kerċem Ajax ground as a result of a waterlogged pitch at the Gozo Stadium.
During the opening stages Valletta had several good chances to open the score mainly through the efforts of Roderick Briffa and Federico Falcone.
The hosts could have surprised their more quoted opponents on at least two occasions though as the City defence looked overconfident at times.
However, Valletta took the lead on 16 minutes when Ian Azzopardi pounced on a rebound after his first attempt had been partially saved by keeper Steve Sultana.
City looked on their way but the Tigers levelled matters before the half-hour. Lubos Adamec was left unmarked from a corner, taken by former City striker Daniel Bogdanovic, and he planted his header past the keeper.
Valletta were surprised but bounced back in front with two goals in quick succession by Jhonnattann Benitez.
The Brazilian first surprised the Xewkija goalkeeper with a deft cross shot and five minutes later he concluded in goal after having his first attempt stopped by Sultana.
In the second half, Valletta dominated for long stretches and Sultana was called in action to keep out the shots from Jhonnattann, Falcone and Briffa.
Paul Zammit’s team reduced the pressure late on and Xewkija almost pulled a goal back but John Camilleri incredibly headed wide following an inviting cross by Bogdanovic.
Source – Times of Malta
VALLETTA – N. Vella, R. Camilleri, R. Briffa, J. Borg, J. Caruana, A. Nafti (N. Priso), R. Romao, F. Falcone (N. Pulis), J. Benites, I. Azzopardi, D. Balbinot.
XEWKIJA T. – S. Sultana, J. Cefai, L. Adamec, P. Bittigieg, J. Attard, J. Portelli (J.M. Vella), G. Hili, R. Buttigieg, D. Bogdanovic, T.M. Dos Santos (T. Vella), J. Camilleri.
Scorers: 16′ I. Azzopardi, 27′ L. Adamec, 33′ 38′ J. Benites,
Referee: G. Tonna