Day 29: Valletta 2 Tarxien 0
Valletta overcame another difficult hurdle in the title run-in as they beat Tarxien Rainbows 2-0 to open a nine-point gap on Hibernians at the top, with the latter playing against Floriana tomorrow.
After a goalless first half, Valletta found their rhythm in the second period with quickfire goals from Federico Falcone and Abdelkarim Nafti securing another win that edged the Whites closer to the championship crown to the delight of their vocal fans.
The strong wind made life difficult for both teams in the first half.
Tarxien had a good spell early in the game with Luke Montebello miscuing his grounder but Valletta created the better chances as the first half moved on.
Ryan Camilleri blasted high from the distance before Abdelkarim Nafti missed a great chance when heading over from Jhonnattann’s cross.
Tarxien goalkeeper Andrea Cassar made a good save to deny Jhonnattann who went close again on the stroke of half-time but his goalbound header, from Rafael Ledesma’s cross, was cleared off the line by Tarxien defender Rafael Ledesma.
Valletta opened the scoring three minutes into the second half, Federico Falcone rifling home from close in after receiving from Nafti.
The Tunisian winger got in on the act as his thumping drive from the distance sizzled past Cassar to give Valletta a 2-0 lead.
With their confidence sky-high, Valletta seized control. Jonathan Caruana headed just over from Jhonnattann’s cross.
There was another chance when Ledesma’s perfect pass released Falcone but his shot ended just wide.
Tarxien looked to have suffered another blow when Ebiabowei Baker tripped Jhonnattann inside the box Baker but Ledesma’s spot-kick rolled came off the foot of the post.
The Rainbows narrowed the deficit from their next move as Pedro’s cross, from a left-wing corner, flew across the face of goal and just eluded the incoming Alex Nilsson who had replaced Frances.
As the game moved into the final 10 minutes, Llywelyn Cremona set off on a surging run through the middle but his rising strike was kept out by Cassar.
Tarxien threatened to pull one back but Nilsson’s low effort was pushed away by Henry Bonello who produced another fine save to push Triston Caruana’s piledriver over the bar.
Abdelkarim Nafti was named BOV player of the match.
Source – timesofmalta.com
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, J. Caruana, F. Falcone (I. Azzopardi), J. Benites, R. Camilleri, J. Gill Cruz, R. Briffa, A. Nafti (J. Borg), L. Cremona, U. Calistus, R. Ledesma (M. Mifsud).
TARXIEN. – A. Cassar, E. Baker, M. Caruana, T. Tabone Desira, T. Caruana, A. Azzopardi (B. Muscat), L. Montebello, D. Zerafa (M. Tabone), A. Da Paixao, J. Oliviera Santos, C. Frances.
Scorers: 48′ F. Falocne, 50′ A. Nafti
Yellow Cards: D. Zerafa, T. Caruana (T), J. Gill Cruz, R. Camilleri (V)
Man of Match: Abdelkarim Nafti (V)
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri