Matchday 21: Valletta 2 Gzira U. 1
Valletta brought to an end a two-month victory drought when they overcame second-placed Gżira United by the odd goal in three.
With this win, Valletta leapfrog Gudja United to a more comfortable mid-table position but Gżira drop important points in the battle for the runner-up spot.
Gżira coach Darren Abdilla was forced to make a change in the eleventh hour as Gabriel Mentz sustained an injury during warm-up and was replaced by Ewertton Costa while Jackson Mendoza was handed a rare start.
On the other hand, Enmy Pena Beltre and Andrea Zammit were named in the starting line-up for Valletta as they lacked Niltinho and Eslit Sala.
The Maroons went close to taking the lead after just six minutes when off a cross by Marcelo Dias from the right, Toni Kolega’s header was turned into a corner by Cain Formosa.
However Valletta forged ahead on 14 minutes. Brandon Paiber served Shaun Dimech who sent Kilian Bevis through and the latter beat Darijan Zarkov with a low shot.
Gżira replied with a Nikolai Muscat header ending just over the bar following a corner from the left. At the other end, Shaun Dimech served Andrea Zammit on the left but the latter hit wide on 38 minutes.
Four minutes into the second half, the Maroons could have levelled when they were awarded a penalty after Ulrich N’Nomo pushed Jackson Mendoza inside the area.
However, Maxuell Maia’s effort from the spot was neutralised by Cain Formosa.
Three minutes later, Mendoza went close once again with a powerful drive from outside the area after concluding a solo effort.
On 57 minutes, Zammit sent Kilian Bevis through but his conclusion was neutralised by Zarkov.
Gżira replied with a cross by Dias which Lucas Ribeiro headed wide on 65 minutes and a minute later, a powerful shot by Zammit just missed the target.
Valletta were awarded a penalty on 77 minutes when Luke Tabone floored Zammit inside the area. Paiber converted to double the score.
Gżira pulled one back one minute from time. Jefferson delivered a cross from the left and substitute Lucas Ribeiro headed home from close range.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: C. Formosa, E. Ruiz, S. Dimech, F. Falcone (W. Jebor), B. Kamdem, B. Paiber (J. Willy), R. Muscat, J. Ngong, E. Beltre, K. Bevis, A. Zammit (C. Gauci).
GZIRA: D. Zarkov, G. Bohrer, L, Tabone, N. Muscat, Z. Scerri, M. Dias (A. Borg), T. Kolega, E. Costa Silva (B. Borg), M. Maia (L. Riberio de Oliviera), J. De Assis, J. Mendoza (T. Espindola).
Referee: T. Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: E. Pena Beltre, F. Falcone (V), B. Borg (G)
Scorers: 14′ K. Bevis, 78′ B. Paiber (V), 89′ L. Riberio de Oliviera (G)
Man of the Match: Cain Formosa (V)