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Matchday 25: Valletta 0 Naxxar L 4

Valletta vs Naxxar

Valletta were relegated from the top division for the first time in their 118-year history amid tears and scenes of disapproval from their supporters on Sunday.

The Lilywhites were relegated after failing to take any points from their encounter against Naxxar at the National Stadium.

Valletta looked doomed for much of the season but their 1-0 win over Balzan last weekend, had given them a lifeline.

Juan Gill Cruz’s choice underlined his loyalty to the old adage ‘never change a winning side’ as he confirmed the same line-up that started against Balzan, which had broken a streak of 10 winless games.

At the other end, the inclusion of Edson Farias instead of Maicon represented the only change in Naxxar’s starting formation from the draw against Sliema Wanderers.

A draw for Naxxar would have been enough to confirm their Premier League status ahead of their derby against Mosta next weekend. However, it seemed that amassing just one point was not the Naxxar players’ minds.

From the onset, Valletta looked to be in for a hard time against what seemed to be a more adventurous Naxxar side. And the Lions could not have hoped for a better lift-off.

They broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion inside the first two minutes. Retrieving possession inside Valletta’s half, Takuma Yamaguchi strode forward, and outsmarted Santiago Ferraris, before unleashing a stunning drive that soared into the top corner as goalkeeper Alessandro Guarnone looked on helplessly.

Yamaguchi’s screamer, arguably one of the best goals of the season so far, had a galvanising effect on Naxxar. Neil Pace Cocks sent in a teasing low freekick from the left which was turned into a corner by the Italian goalkeeper.

Reprieved, Valletta tried to raise their efforts. Brandon Paiber swung in a cross from the right, and Federico Falcone rose over friends and foes but Lions shotstopper Matthias Debono was alert as he nudged the ball away.

Yet, Vallletta’s problems in dealing with Naxxar’s incursions down the flanks were evident again past the half-hour mark. Yamaguchi dashed forward before squaring for Augusto Pablo Carvalho who hit a rising shot behind Guarnone as the Lions kept their foot on the accelerator.

Avoiding defeat never looked likely for Valletta from the moment the excellent Naxxar made it 2-0.

In the 41st minute, Pace Cocks laid the ball for Robinson Blandon who fizzed a low shot past Guarnone and into the corner.

The rhythm dropped in the second half as Valletta looked resigned to the impending defeat and eventually relegation into the Challenge league.

Yet, there was still time for Naxar to score goal number four. De Carvalho and Blandon both turned in majestic displays as they combined well in the 65th minute with the former squaring for Blandon to light up the Naxxar stand with a bullet shot that ripped past Guarnone.

Source: times of malta

VALLETTA: A.Guarnone, S.Ferraris, G.Braganca De Oliveira, J.Azzopardi (46′ O.Barrientos) (68′ N.A.Micallef), C.Gauci, K.Ewurum (46′ S.Dimech), F.Falcone, B.Paiber (C), V.Filho, A.Silas (46′ M.Jezdimirovic), D.Garba (46′ J.Benites Da Conceicao)

NAXXAR L: M.Debono, N.Micallef, F.Barbosa Pereira, N.Pace Cocks (83′ A.Senna Azzopardi), P.Augusto, E.Cerqueira Farias (C) (70′ M.Fenech), R.Blandon Rendon (80′ G.Bonanno), T.Yamaguchi (83′ J.Ellul), E.Espirito Santo, Y.Ito (83′ R.Mercieca), J.Vitor Moura Cardoso

Scorers: 2′ Yamaguchi; 31′ De Carvalho; 41′, 65′ Blandon.

Yellow Cards: S. Ferraris, C. Cauchi, B. Paiber, M. Jezdimorovic (V), T. Yamaguchi (N)

Referee: M. Spiteri

BOV Man of the Match: P. Augusto (N)