Day 7 Valletta 4 Lija A. 2
Valletta’s early double might have given the impression that the City would have had a plainsailing towards the three points but they were proved wrong.
These early setbacks only served to inspire Lija players to a bigger effort as they frustrated the City with direct attacking football.
The game started at a frenetic pace, and Lija Athletic’s new-look attack – Raphael Kooh Sohna and Abubakar Bello Osagie combined well after six minutes to create the first real shooting opportunity. The latter released the debutant Kooh Sohna but the former Valletta striker dragged his effort wide with only Henry Bonello to beat.
Lija were made to pay for that miss as, in their next attack, the Lilywhites opened their account with Matteo Piciollo heading home from Denni’s fine cross from free-kick.
Just past the half an hour mark, Denni set off on one of his typical runs on the right flank before dispatching a low shot into the bottom-left corner.
Fears that Valletta’s second goal would undermine Lija’s confidence failed to materialise as Joseph Galea’s brave troops kept their heads up.
Just before half-time, Valletta conceded a penalty. Bello Osagie quickly released the speedy Kooh Sohna who was felled by Ryan Camilleri’s late tackle. Erjon Beu drilled his shot past Bonello to push Lija within one goal of Valletta.
But Zoran Popovic’s men hit again at a crucial moment just after the break with Kyrian Nwoko heading home from Piciollo’s fine cross.
Back came Lija again. Bello Osagie set up Beu who drifted wide of his marker before curling a shot that flew into the net.
Valletta wrapped up their win on stroke of time, Piciollo hammering a shot behind Bonnici after receiving from Nwoko who had broken clear on a devastating counter-attack.
Source – Times of Malta
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, R. Camilleri, K. Nwoko, J. Cruz Gill, S. Malano, J. Zerafa, R. Saleh (R. Fenech), J. Borg, S. Borg, M. Picollo, D. Dos Santos (N. Pulis).
LIJA A. – L. Bonnici, P. Babic, L. Muscat (P. Borg), D. Scerri, E. Beu, L. Schembri (A. Galea), A. Bello Osagie, C. Cassar, O. Sidibe, D. Leeflang (N. Spiteri), R. Kooh Sohna
Yellow Cards: R. Fenech (V) N. Spiteri (L).
Scorers: 11′ 94′ M. Picollo, 32′ D. Dos Santos, 46′ K. Nwoko (V), 40′ 55′ E. Beu (L)
Man of Match: M. Picollo (V)
Referee: D. Agius