Day 11 Valletta 2 Zebbug 0
Valletta maintained their late resurgence after beating Zebbug Rangers 2-0.
With the Rangers having taken only four points from their 11 games, Valletta were expected to coast to an easy victory but although the champions were worthy winners, Alfonso Greco’s men defied expectations and made life difficult for the Citizens.
The Rangers were the livelier side in the opening exchanges. A fine one-two between Matias Muchiardi and the energetic Monti, very active on the left early on, saw the latter powering his way into the area but his rising shot was cleared away for a corner by Nicky Vella after 18 minutes.
But a minute later, Valletta forced a breakthrough their initial lacklustre display hardly deserved. A mazy Kooh-Sohna run in the area ended with his legs crumpling after a clumsy challenge by Muchiardi.
Assistant referee Luke Portelli was quick to signal the infringement and the referee Andre’ Arciola ordered a penalty which was converted by Hamza Barry.
Zebbug’s early optimism looked to have been tainted on 26 minutes when Thomas Paris marred his game by getting himself sent off after he looked to have lunged at Briffa in central midfield.
Nine minutes from half-time, Valletta were forced into their first substitution as Kooh-Sohna was unable to continue after pulling his hamstring. He was replaced by Alex Barbosa Terra, taking over the Cameroonian’s striking duties.
In spite of their numerical superiority the cautious Valletta rarely looked like exploiting their numerical advantage for the reminder of the first half. In their only significant attack before the break, Ryan Fenech released Elford-Alliyu on the right of the penalty area but the Englishman’s rising shot from a tight angle flew high.
On 52 minutes, Terra did well to float a dangerous cross into the penalty area but Briffa’s looping header finished just wide off the far post.
Gaining in confidence, Valletta extended their lead two minutes later as Elford-Alliyu supplied an inviting ball to Nafti who accelerated into the box before the chipping the ball over the onrushing Fabricio Rapchan Morales.
Terra then saw his dipping effort being deflected away for a corner. Zebbug emerged from their slumber past the hour mark when Monti rifled wide also thanks to Scottish player making his incursions from midfielder into the Valletta box more frequent.
In the 75th minute, Vella made a providential intervention on Matthew Bartolo’s point-blank shot. In the final minutes, Valletta controlled well without exerting pressure on the Zebbug rearguard to take home all the points.
VALLETTA – N. Vella, R. Fenech, A. Nafti, J. Caruana, R. Camilleri, R. Briffa, I. Azzopardi, S. Borg (L. Dimech), H. Barry (L. Montebello), R. Kooh Sohna (A. Terra), L. Elford
ZEBBUG R. – F. Morales, J. Borg, J. Camilleri, J. Diaz Serrano, M. Gauci, M. Mucchardi, T. Paris, C. Gauci (M. Farrugia), M. Bartolo, M. Rodrigues Britto (J. Nwoba), C. Monti (M. Ciantar).
Date: 08.11.14 Time: 16:15 Venue: Victor Tedesco Stadium
Scorers: H. Barry, A. Nafti
Yellow Cards: R. Kooh Sohna, S. Borg (V)
Red Cards: T. Paris (Z)
Man of Match: Hamza Barry (V)
Referee: Andre Arciola