Matchday 02: Valletta 3 Sliema W 1
Valletta claimed their first three points as they defeated Sliema 3-1. The Citizens showed some improvement over their last outing as they managed to fend off the spirited challenge of the Wanderers to get off the mark in this year’s championship.
Following their defeat by Sta Lucia, Valletta had three changes as Jean Borg, Nicholas Pulis and Matteo Piciollo were preferred to Joseph Zerafa, Kevin Tulimieri and Kyrian Nwoko respectively. Coach Darren Abdilla was forced to make two changes during the first half as Douglas Packer and Enmy Pena Beltre abandoned the pitch injured.
On the other hand, Sliema coach Alfonso Greco named Ryan Fenech in the starting line-up after starting the last game on the bench. Fenech was, however, replaced by their latest recruit Seydou Sow early in the second half.
The Wanderers went close after just three minutes when off a cross by Juri Cisotti from the right, Cleo was anticipated by Pena Beltre who cleared the ball into a corner. Five minutes later, Yuri de Jesus Messias concluded a solo effort with a shot from the edge of the area that ended just wide. On 15 minutes, Douglas Packer’s freekick from the right was deflected by Mark Scerri and Jake Galea came to the rescue with a fine save.
Valletta managed to take the lead on 21 minutes when following a cross from the right by Yuri Messias, Pena Beltre took a short clearance by Juan Cruz Gill to beat Galea with a fine rising shot which ended in the top corner.
Sliema replied with a cross from the right from which Jean Paul Farrugia headed just wide.
However the Blues were not to be denied on 37 minutes when Scerri served the unmarked Cisotti on the right and the latter hit past Bonello to level matters.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, substitute Shaun Dimech slotted the ball home off a freekick from the left but the ‘goal’ was disallowed for an offside signalled by assistant referee Christopher Francalanza although the young Valletta midfielder actually seemed to be on side.
Valletta, however, regained the lead four minutes in the second half. Matteo Piciollo exchanged the ball with de Jesus Messias on the right, before slotting the ball past the Sliema custodian from inside the area.
On 63 minutes, the Wanderers went close with a freekick from the right by Cleo, Jean Paul Farrugia headed the ball down and Michele Sansone’s close-range effort was blocked by Bonello.
Substitute Stanimir Miloskovic concluded a good move on the left flank with a diagonal shot which beat Bonello but the ‘goal’ was disallowed due to Farrugia’s offside position. Four minutes later, Dimech advanced into the area before serving Mario Fontanella who flicked the ball past Galea only to miss the target.
Valletta sealed the issue with a third goal two minutes in added time. Mario Fontanella released Kevin Tulimieri on the left and the latter served Yuri de Jesus Messias who controlled the ball before beating Galea with a shot from the edge of the area.
VALLETTA: H. Bonello, R. Caruana, S. Borg, E. Pena Beltre (J. Zerafa), M. Fontanella, M. Piciollo (K. Tulimieri), R. Muscat, N. Pulis, D. Packer (S. Dimech), J. Borg, J. Messias.
SLIEMA W: J. Galea, M. Sansone, A. Stelitano, K. Shaw, M. Scerri, J. Pereira (J. Mintoff), R. Fenech (S. Sow), J. Cisotti (S. Miloskovic), J. Cruz Gill, C. Pani, J. P. Farrugia.
Yellow Cards: S. Borg, Y. Messias (V), M. Scerri, S. Stelitano (S)
BOV Player of the Match: Y. Messias
Referee: M. Apap