Day 1: Valletta 3 St Andrews 0
Njongo Priso scored two penalties, while newcomer Federico Falcone wrapped up the three points late on as Valletta marked the start of Paul Zammit’s second spell as Valletta coach, with a victory over St. Andrews.
Inside the first two minutes, Cremona missed a sitter, miscuing his shot from a good position after receiving from Briffa after the latter was teed up by Mifsud Triganza. But Cremona, past the half hour mark, was unlucky not to put his name on the scoresheet as his swerving effort, after a surging run by Ian Azzopardi, finished just wide.
Valletta were stirring, and, on the stroke of half-time, Nicky Vella Petroni could do nothing to stop Jhonnattann from advancing into the box as the defender bundled over the Brazilian striker with referee Mario Apap pointing to the penalty spot. Diego Rossetto had no chance with Priso’s blasted effort.
St. Andrews did not create a chance of note in the first half, which ended with the Saints supporters protesting vehemently against the penalty’s decision.
But Wayne Attard’s side carried a greater threat as Valletta failed to display their previous urgency. City’s biggest hope of doubling the lead came in the shape of Mifsud Triganza. The former Balzan striker sent a stinging a shot into Rossetto’s hand three minutes after the break. And the veteran striker was out of luck again on 56 minutes when he sent a volley over the bar.
Two minutes later, Matthew Guillaumier tested Henry Bonello with a header after Valletta struggled to clear a Dale Camilleri looping cross. But St. Andrews soon on the back foot when Valletta almost extended their lead with a devastating attack on 61 minutes. Mifsud Triganza turned provider picked up the ball from Jhonnattann and fed the overlapping Priso who shoot low to hit the base of the post.
On 67 minutes, Valletta were awarded a second penalty when Briffa fell under the challenge of Jordan Williams. From the spot, Priso sent Rossetto again the wrong way.
Abdelkarim Nafti came on for the ineffective Mifsud Triganza and the Tunisian contributed to Valletta third when a superb cross from Romeu Romao fell to Nafto who served fellow substitute Federico Falcone to head home.
VALLETTA – H. Bonello, R. Briffa, J. Caruana, C. Pani, J. Cruz Gill, I. Azzopardi, R. Romao, N. Priso (F. Falcone), J. P. Mifsud Triganza (A. Nafti), L. Cremona, J. Benites (S. Bajada).
ST ANDREWS – D. Rosetto, N. Ghio, J. Williams, D. Camilleri, M. Sehitaj, N. Andreas, N. Vella Petroni (W. Moodley), M. Guillaimier, L. Cosmai (M. Desira Buttigieg), J. Farrugia, C. Nquidjol (J. Walker).
Scorers: 45′, 67′ N. Priso, 89′ F. Falcone.
Yellow Cards: L. Cremona, I. Azzopardi
Man of Match: Njongo Priso (V)
Referee: Mario Apap