FA Trophy Valletta 2 Gzira U 0
A depleted Valletta who betrayed signs of tiredness and dug deep into their energy reserves to beat Gżira United 2-0 and book a place in next Saturday’s FA Trophy final against Balzan.
Valletta’s superiority surfaced immediataly during the first half but they could only resolve the issue with two late goals.
Eight minutes from the start, Mario Fontanella found himself in space on the left and duly tried to exploit the situation with a fierce shot but Justin Haber blocked his effort.
Two minutes later, Kyrian Nwoko floated an intelligent pass towards Bojan Kaljevic but the striker could only get a faint touch to the ball as he tried to shoot.
With Gżira lacking the early spark to pose problems to Valletta, the Citizens stayed in command. At times, Valletta’s high defensive line was caught out by the speed and movement of Haruna Garba. During a hot raid after 22 minutes, Valletta failed to clear his low with Edison Zarate scrambling his shot.
On 38 minutes, Justin Haber kept Gżira afloat when he first warded off Pulis’s flick. In next to no time, the goalkeeper picked himself up to make another fine save as he dived to keep out Nwoko’s grounder.
Valletta showed up again, this time Fontanella hit the ball wide. The Lilywhites’ first-half ascendancy merited something more. But Gżira held out.
The holders’urgency to establish a foothold, scorewise was evident and they pushed forward in numbers as the game restarted.
Gżira United coach Zerafa appeared to have no inhibitions after the break as he replaced Zach Scerri with Justin Mengolo. On 75 minutes, Andrew Cohen’s cross from the right landed in the goalmouth, causing apprehension among the City defenders before they managed to clear.
It was touch and go now despite Valletta’s superior urge to seek a breakthrough. That came when Rowen Muscat hit a diagonally past a sea of Maroon players after Fontanella’s corner was partially cleared by Fernando Barbosa. Haber got his hands to Muscat’s low drive but could only push it into his own net.
At death, Mengolo made a rapid incursion into the boxto create a one-on-one situation but his low strike drew a fine save from Henry Bonello. Valletta was quickly transferred the ball upfield to Santiago Malano who squared for substitute Bogdan Gavrila, who rifled the ball behind Haber to seal their passage to the final.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, R. Camilleri, S. Malano, M. Fontanella (A. Monticelli), K. Nwoko, B. Kaljevic (B. Gavrila) , E. Pena Beltre, J. Borg, N. Pulis (S. Dimech), I. Saleh, R. Muscat
GZIRA U. – J. Haber, Z. Scerri (J. Mengolo), R. Soares, A. Cohen, J. Corbalan (N. Muscat), E. Bilbao Zarate, R. Briffa, G. Conti, S. Borg (M. Beerman), F. Barbosa, H. Garba.
Yellow Cards: F. Barbosa (G), N. Pulis (V)
Scorers: 78′ R. Muscat, 91′ B. Gavrila (V)
Referee: A. M. Sant