Matchday 20: Valletta 1 Sliema W. 0
Valletta were back to winning ways as a goal by Caio Prado early in the second half handed them a narrow win over bottom-placed Sliema Wanderers.
The Citizens, who had lost seven out of the previous eight league matches, picked up three valuable points that revive their hopes of securing a top-six berth at the end of the first phase.
Although they are still eighth, they lie just three points away from the sixth place but Gżira United and Sirens have a game in hand.
Sliema, on the other hand, remain anchored at the bottom of the table.
No less than six changes from their last outing still failed to change the Wanderers’ fortunes as they suffered yet another defeat which leaves them five points behind Santa Lucia.
Danilo Doncic, who registered his first league win following his appointment as Valletta coach, made two changes, replacing Luis Murillo and Andrea Zammit with Triston Caruana and Caio Prado.
Shots at goal were few and far in between during the first half. Valletta had the first attempt at goal with Jean Borg testing goalkeeper David Cassar with a header off a cross by Kevin Tulimieri after five minutes.
Ten minutes later, Ivan Curjuric tried his luck with a shot from outside the area that ended just over the bar.
Sliema replied with a Gui Inters effort from outside the area which was parried by Alessandro Guarnone on 23 minutes.
Six minutes later, a Juan Pablo Morales Rengifo free-kick scraped past the post.
Just before the end of the first half, the Citizens threatened with a Triston Caruana header off a corner by Ivan Curjuric from the right.
Sliema started the second half with two changes as Raffaele Schiavi and Jean Paul Farrugia made way for Ruslan Kisil and Valmir Berisha.
But on 53 minutes, Valletta managed to break the deadlock. Kevin Tulimieri exchanged the ball with Mario Fontanella on the right before delivering a cross for Caio Prado who controlled the ball before beating David Cassar from close range.
The reaction by the Wanderers was sterile and the Citizens’ rearguard controlled their forwards without particular difficulty.
Valletta went close to adding another on 66 minutes but Curjuric’s powerful drive from outside the area just missed the target as Valletta administered their lead until the final whistle.
Source & Photo Credits: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: A. Guarnone, J. Borg, R. Camilleri, T. Caruana (82 R. Muscat), C. Gauci, E. Pena Beltre, I. Curjuric (82 H. Dilaver), E. Sala, C. Prado (90 A. Zammit), M. Fontanella (90 M. Sansone), K. Tulimieri (69 L. Campos).
SLIEMA W: D. Cassar, J. Morales, R. Schiavi (46 R. Kisil-6), J. Mintoff (86 J. Engerer), M. Scerri (72 O. Elouni), G. Inters, E. Agius (63 M. Piciollo), O. Linton, J.P. Farrugia (46 V. Berisha-5.5), M. Beerman, M. Davis.
Referee: T. Farrugia Cann.
Scorers: 53′ C. Prado.
Yellow Cards: A. Guarnone, M. Fontanella, E. Sala, H. Dilaver (V), J. P. Farrugia, J. Morales, M. Scerri (S)
Man of the Match: I. Curjuric (V).