Matchday 17: Valletta 3 Sirens 3
Sirens earned a point after a brave second-half fightback against Valletta. Winston Muscat’s side found themselves 2-0 down within 40 minutes but battled back as the Citizens had to settle down for a draw.
Paulo Vyctor Bento was Valletta’s chief tormentor as he had a hand in all Sirens’ three goals, which came from a Brazilian’s brace from the spot and another from Kei Sano.
All the early signs pointed to a victory for Valletta as the Lilywhites started brightly with Shaun Dimech hitting a venomous low shot that gave Matthew Grech no chance.
The finish was beautiful in its simplicity for a sublime opener after four minutes.
Sirens threatened sporadically with Bento, and strikers Sano and Arman Vaikainah all posing problems Valletta problems.
But it took the Northenders 27 minutes to muster their first shot when Bento burst into the box before flicking his effort wide.
At the other end, Sirens’ defence was constantly on the back foot trying to tame Killian Bevis. The French striker caused immediate problems and had two chances in the space of two minutes to increase the lead. On 33 minutes, Bevis broke free on the right but he dragged his effort just wide. Then, the nippy striker hit a rising shot over the bar.
But Bevis responded in the best possible way five minutes from half-time when he controlled a rebound and fired past Grech.
Sirens came out after the break, determined to get back into the game. Winston Muscat immediately threw on Ivan Vaselinov Kolev for Degran Jackson.
Bento had Cain Formosa beaten with a thumping strike, which rattled the crossbar before bouncing clear.
Then, Vaikainah pierced the Valletta defence before being pushed over by Joseph Willy. The referee awarded a penalty as Bento beat Formosa from the penalty spot.
Valletta regrouped and Federico Falcone stuck out his boot to poke the ball home from Andrea Zammit’s cross.
But as Valletta hit cruise control, Sirens stepped up the pressure – and on 68 minutes, Bento, superb throughout, broke through the left and cut the ball across for Sano to dab home.
Sirens won a succession of corners, but their efforts on goal were restricted to a weak shot from Kolev.
With Sirens throwing more men forward, Valletta broke, and substitute William Jebor shot over the bar in front of a gaping goal.
Yet, two minutes from time, substitute Christian Gauci handled the ball into the box to stop Adrian Borg’s firm header. Bento took again the responsibility of the spot-kick to bury the ball behind Formosa.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: C. Formosa, E. Ruiz, A. Zammit (84 C. Gauci), S. Dimech, F. Falcone(73 W. Jebor), B. Kamdem, B. Paiber (73 T. Caruana), U. Nnomo, E. Sala, J. Wily, K. Bevis.
SIRENS: M. Grech, M. Muniz, K. Sano, R. Tachikawa (85 S. Arab), A. Borg, J. Walker, A. Vaikainah (64 R. Correa-5), A. Cini, V. Bento, D. Jackson (46 I. Kolev-6), S. Sessegnon.
Referee: S. Petrovic
Scorers: 3′ Dimech, 40′ Bevis, 55′ Falcone 55 (V), 48′, 88′ Bento pen, 68 Sano (S)
Yellow Cards: B. Paiber, C. Gauci.
Man of the Match: V. Bento (S).