Matchday 15: Valletta 1 Gzira U 1
Two late goals in a span of two minutes handed Gżira United and Valletta a point each in a 1-1 draw that sparked into life in the second half.
After a drab opening 45 minutes, both the Maroons and the Citizens producing a thrilling second half that saw Gżira’s Maxuell reply to Triston Caruana’s momentarily leading goal for Valletta.
Gżira and Valletta are now joint-fifth with 21 points each with seven games left to determine the six teams that will be playing in the Championship and Relegation Pool.
The opening stages did not produce any goalscoring opportunities bar a couple of long-range efforts from the Gżira players which however, did not pose any threat to Valletta’s goalkeeper Alessandro Guarnone.
Maxuell found himself in a good position to beat the ongoing Guarnone with a header after a neat long ball from Gabriel Bohrer, but the Italian custodian was alert to keep his effort at bay.
Valletta’s only chance came from the feet of Ivan Curjuric who let fly a trademark freekick but the Gzira goalkeeper managed to deny him.
Nonetheless, it was an underwhelming first 45 minutes from the two teams as the goalless stalemate continued to prevail.
However, the second half started on a much different tone when Valletta’s goalkeeper Guarnone was given the marching orders for a late tackle on Maxuell.
From the resultant free-kick, Steve Pisani tested substitute Yenz Cini with a free-kick from the edge of the area before Zach Scerri saw a thumping volley sail over the bar from inside the the penalty area.
Propelled by their numerical advantage, Gżira were now looking to up their ante in search of the leading goal as Valletta were looking to remain more cautious in their approach.
Gzira captain Nikolai Muscat tried his luck with a first timer from close-range but his effort went wide from goal.
Moments later, it was Pisani’s turn to attempt another shot but once again Gżira could not find the target.
As the half wore on, Valletta coach handed Andrea Zammit his Valletta debut in an attempt to bolster the offensive department.
Italian forward Marioa Fontanella almost stunned Gżira with a low drive from tight angle but goalkeeper Darijan Zarkov managed to keep him at bay.
Despite Gżira were looking closes to find the goal, it was Valletta who forged ahead when substiture Triston Caruana headed home from point-blank range after Jean Borg flicked a Curjuric’s corner onto him.
However, their joy was cut short when Maxuell levelled terms with a towering header, capitalising on an Andrea Pavic’s cross.
In the closing stages of the game, goalkeeper Cini came to the rescue for Valletta when he denied prolific scorer Maxuell in the penalty area to preserve the 1-1 draw.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: A.Guarnone; J. Borg, R. Camilleri, S. Dimech (61 R. Muscat), M. Sansone, E. Pena Beltre, I. Curjuric, E. Sala (73 T. Caruana), C. Prado (73 A. Zammit), M. Fontanella ; L. Campos (46 Y. Cini).
GZIRA U: D. Zarkov; G. Bohrer, M. Cosic, N. Muscat, S. Pisani (70 C. Gauci), Z. Scerri, A. Pavic , N. Portelli, Maxuell , Jefferson , J. Mendoza.
Referee: S. Petrovic
Scorers: 81′ T. Caruana (V), 83′ Maxuell (G)
Yellow Cards: E. Sala, Fontanella (V), Jefferson, Mendoza (G).
Red Card: A. Guarnone (V)
Man of the Match: Maxuell (G).