Matchday 23: Valletta 3 Sirens 0
Valletta’s failure to land a top-six finish this season had inevitably generated a wave of criticism about the merits of their overall performance, especially after all the hype created at the beginning of the new era under the helm of new president Alexander Fenech.
They have not been the darlings of the gods this season. Their shortcomings did not help their cause, either. Yesterday, in the first half, there were signs of those factors that contributed to their downgrading to the relegation pool.
However, there was a twist of fortunes after the change of ends, with the Citizens netting three goals to turn the tide in their favour and leave Sirens stunned.
Having been doomed to the Play-Out Final Round, both Sirens and Valletta had their sights set on collecting the spoils from yesterday’s clash.
Valletta, running into an effective gear after the break, managed a morale-boosting win which has increased their points’ kitty in their bid to avoid any relegation ‘battle’.
Valletta’s first half-performance demonstrated why their recent results have been so poor.
They were hesitant and lacked cohesion and only Ivan Curjuric looked as though he may create an opening. Passes frequently went astray as a nervous Valletta side laboured to proceed in unison out of their own half.
Sirens’ attacking tandem of Vitor Vieira and Degran Jackson looked more likely to respond to the promptings of Carlo Zammit Lonardelli and Conor Borg.
In fact, the first fire-cracker of the match was provided by them. Vieira set up Jackson with an audacious back-heel but the Jamaican striker hit a shot straight at Alessandro Guarnone.
Carlos Riascos almost scored an own goal at the other end, shy of the half hour mark, when the Colombian defender inadvertently sliced Mario Fontanella’s cross into the side-netting.
Triston Caruana created the opening after the break after he cut the ball inviting for Fontanella, only for the Italian striker to go down under the challenge from Bogdan Gavrila. Curjuric saw his effort from the ensuing free-kick blocked by Zammit Lonardelli.
Yet, Valletta took the lead immediately after, Jonathan Debono parried David Promise’s stinging shot into the path of Caio Pardo and the Brazilian striker left himself no margin of error in getting the ball between the post and the Sirens goalkeeper.
Prado was the focal point as Valetta raised the tempo. Debono, was on hand to deny the Brazilian a second goal, a few minutes later, when he instinctively beat away his thumping effort over the bar.
Sirens folded under pressure and it went from bad to worse on 59 minutes when Fontanella’s lob left Debono stranded at the edge of his box.
Curjuric’s quick thinking and incisive passing were posing real problems for Sirens and he set up Fontanella who saw his shot palmed around the post by Debono.
On 75 minutes, Debono denied Fontanella another scoring opportunity with a brilliant block after the Italian striker was brilliantly set up by Promise.
Two minutes from the end, Vieira, failed to pull one back for Sirens as he was denied by Guarnone.
But Triston Caruana extended Valletta’s lead to 3-0 when he picked up possession 30-metres out, and let fly a stinging drive that flew into the top corner of the net… a perfect execution.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: A. Guarnone, T. Caruana, M. Sansone, C. Gauci, E. Pena Beltre, E. Promise (90 A. Zammit), I. Curjuric (85 S. Dimech), R. Muscat, E. Sala, C. Prado (75 K. Tulimieri), M. Fontanella (90 H. Dilaver).
SIRENS: J. Debono H. Marcelino, C. Borg (68 A. Effiong), B. Gavrila (79 M. Lomis), D. Albanese (54 J. Walker), C. Zammit Lonardelli, A. Cini, C. Riascos, D. Jackson, V. Vieira, R. Cardoso.
Referee: T. Farrugia Cann
Scorers: 51′ C. Prado, 59′ M. Fontanella, 90′ T. Caruana.
Man of the Match: C. Prado (V)