Matchday 05: Valletta 1 Marsaxlokk 0
Valletta returned to winning ways as a goal mid-way through the second half handed them a narrow win over Marsaxlokk.
Marsaxlokk, who were still unbeaten in four matches, were eyeing a win which would have put them on top of the BOV Premier League table with Ħamrun Spartans and Floriana.
They held the initiative in the opening minutes and had the opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty. However the penalty miss turned out to be the turning point.
In fact, Valletta, who had coach Vincenzo Potenza for the first time in charge, were a transformed side in the second half, creating several goal scoring chances, hitting the posts twice and scoring the all-important goal.
Potenza could not count on the injured Shaun Dimech and handed Jhonnattann Benites and former Marsaxlokk forward Santiago Ferraris a start.
On the other hand, Winston Muscat had Fernando Gomes replacing Anthony Obonogwu.
Marsaxlokk held the upper hand in the early stages, going close to taking the lead on 19 minutes with a cross by Jacob Walker from the right, Leandro Aguirre rounded a defender before trying his luck with an angled shot which was neutralised by Jake Galea.
The Southseasiders had an excellent opportunity to take the lead on 28 minutes when they were awarded a penalty.
Fernando Gomes intercepted an erratic pass by Federico Vega and served Yuri Messias who was floored inside the area by Enzo Ruiz. However Yuri’s effort from the penalty spot was blocked by goalkeeper Jake Galea.
Towards the end of the first half, a Diego Pires Dall’Oca effort ended just wide for Marsaxlokk.
However in the second half, Valletta were a transformed side. Fernando Barrientos tested Marko Drobnjak with a curved shot from outside the area on 49 minutes but the Marsaxlokk goalkepeer deflected the ball into a corner and a minute later, Jhonnattann was unlucky to hit the crossbar with an angled shot from the right. Ferraris then missed a good opportunity hitting high off an assist by Falcone on 55 minutes.
The Citizens broke the deadlock on 70 minutes. Following a freekick from the left, Enzo Ruiz’s header was blocked by Drobnjak but Jhonnattann Benites headed home from close range.
Eight minutes later, Valletta almost made them two when off a cross by Federico Vega from the right, Federico Falcone’s diving header hit the upright.
Two minutes in added time, Marsaxlokk were reduced to ten men after Jacob Walker was sent off for a rough tackle on Barrientos.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: J. Galea, E. Ruiz, F. Barrientos, S. Ferraris (C. Gauci), F. Falcone, B. Paiber, V. Filho, F. Vega, N. Micallef, J. Benites (D. Garba), A. Hamanjoda (68 L. Susnjara).
MARSAXLOKK: M. Drobnjak, W. Soares, N. Muscat (R. Scicluna), Y. Messias, J. Walker, G. Camilleri, A. Vaikainah (S. Boakye), L. Aguirre, D. Pires, S. Akinbule, F. Gomes.
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri.
Scorer: 70′ J. Benites (V)
Yellow cards: S. Akinbule, F. Falcone, N. Micallef, W. Soares, D. Garba.
Red cards: J. Walker (Marsaxlokk) 90.
BOV player of the match: J. Benites (V).