Day 19 Valletta 3 Lija A 1
Valletta closed the gap to leaders Balzan back down to just one point after a 3-1 win against Lija with new signing Miguel Alba grabbing a brace.
Last Saturday, Floriana threw a spanner in the Premier League title works as they held Balzan to a 1-1 draw, allowing Valletta an opportunity to close the gap at the top and the ambitious Lilywhites took full advantage of Balzan’s half-slip with this win.
Victory was expected yesterday against a team almost condemned to a quick return to Division One next season. That was achieved with minimum sweat despite some flashes of uncertainty until the first goal was scored with over a half an hour gone.
Valletta’s superior footballing qualities legitimised their tepid 3-1 victory.
Alba’s contribution was vital. He scored two second half goals but more than that he was a livewire in midfield. Matteo Piciollo also did well especially with his turn of speed and non-stop play after making the opener.
With Lija mostly confined to their own half, Valletta’s persistence could have brought earlier goals than that obtained by Albert Prosa. The opening goal after 34 minutes when Piciollo’s perfect service to the Estonian striker that the latter sliding past the advancing Luke Bonnici.
By that time, Raed Saleh was denied by the woodwork when his deflected shot from pointblank distance came off the post.
Piciollo had a great chance in the 40th minute when he struck the foot of the post after he rounded off the onrushing Bonnici. The pattern after the break changed as Valletta opted more towards maintaining their goal advantage.
However, Valletta’s insistence were rewarded in the 65th minute. An accurate horizontal ball towards Alba by Saleh had the Spanish striker prodding past Bonnici from close range.
The same player put the issue beyond doubt when he scored a goal out of nothing as he typically pounced on a loose ball and whacked in a low shot after spinning two defenders. The referee was close to the action when Steve Borg fouled Erjon Beu.
The Albanian winger stepped up for the free-kick and brilliantly curled the ball over the defensive wall to beat Valletta goalkeeper Henry Bonello, but victory over Lija had long been sealed
Source – timesofmalta.com
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, S. Malano, M. Picciollo, E. Pena Beltre, J. Zerafa, I. Saleh, R. Muscat, M. Alba, A. Prosa.
LIJA A. – L. Bonnici, P. Babic, O. Sidibe, D. Scerri, M. Clinch, P. Borg, R. Kooh Sohna, V. Hysa, K. Hirose, E. Beu, D. Agius.
Scorers: 35′ A. Prosa, 65′ 74′ M. Alba (V), 90′ B. Erjon (L)
Yellow Cards: E. Beu (L), S. Borg (V)
Man of Match: Matteo Piccolo
Referee: I. Barbara