Day 09 Valletta 3 St Andrews 0
Three first-half goals delivered the points Zoran Popovic’s men needed to leapfrog Gżira United at the top of the Premier League.
Valletta played with pace and purpose in the opening period and their goals came from being given acres of space down the flanks. St Andrews, without a firstteam coach following the sudden departure of Marko Glumac, were woefully inept in defence and failed to create any meaningful chances.
They improved in the second period, but the damage had already been done after new table toppers Valletta scored three unanswered first-half goals to secure their fourth consecutive victory.
Valletta coach Zoran Popovic made one change from the team that crushed Tarxien Rainbos 6-0.
Umeh Uchenna replaced Joseph Zerafa and the Nigerian winger was a constant menace down the
left hand side.
St Andrews, who were led from the dug-out by assistant coach Fausto Craighero, had one change as Martin Davis replaced Jacob Walker.
Valletta opened the scoring with their first meaningful attack of the game – a dynamic break, devastating in its simplicity.
Henry Bonello launched a long ball towards Matteo Piciollo who charged up the left wing, exploiting open space on that flank.
Once outside the penalty area, the Italian striker threaded a square ball to Denni, who clinically side-footed home after rounding Matthew Calleja Cremona, the St Andrews goalkeeper.
Another precise Valletta move on the right created a scoring chance for Santiago Malano, but was denied by Calleja Cremona.
And it was another break down the left that led to the Citizens’ second goal. Uchenna’s cross was met
by Jean Borg, who arrowed the ball over the onrushing Calleja Cremona with a deft header.
Valletta’s third goal, past the half hour mark, was a product of a tidy move down the right, with Kyrian Nwoko crossing for the unmarked Piciollo to tap home from short range.
The Italian returned the favour for Nwoko not long after by whipping in a cross of his own but the U-21 striker was foiled by Calleja Cremona.
After ten minutes of the second half, Ricardo Martin was replaced by Walker.
The change invigorated the Saints who came close when Aidan Friggieri had his best chance after 56 minutes when a move of lightning pace involving Walker and Davis ended with the nippy midfielder shooting straight at Bonello.
The only other noteworthy event of the half came when Michael Mifsud replaced Santiago Malano after 68 minutes to mark his comeback after a long lay-off.
Valletta now lead Gżira United by two points at the top of the standings.
Source – Times of Malta
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, R. Camilleri, K. Nwoko, J. Cruz Gill, S. Malano (M. Mifsud), U. Calistus, R. Saleh, (R. Muscat), J. Borg, S. Borg, M. Picollo, D. Dos Santos (C. Pani).
ST ANDREWS – M. Calleja Cremona, E. Pena Beltre, A. Borg, A. Friggieri, J. Farrugia, K. Atkinson, M. Gauci, M. Davis, T. Grant (L. Grech), R. Martin (J. Walker), K. Butler (M. Grima).
Yellow Cards: J. Borg (V), E. Pena Beltre, A. Borg, J. Farrugia, M. Gauci, K. Butler.
Scorers: D. Dos Santos, M. Picollo, J. Borg
Man of Match: M. Picollo (V)
Referee: P. Farrugia