Matchday 20: Valletta 0 Gudja 2
Valletta’s title aspirations suffered a huge blow when they slumped to a shock defeat to Gudja United at the Centenary Stadium.
After Floriana’s impressive 3-0 win over Sirens on Friday, the onus was on the Malta champions to respond with victory that would put them back level on points at the top of the Premier League standings.
But Gudja have once more proved that they are capable of upsetting any team in the division, as their victory over Floriana last month has shown. After managing to weather anything Valletta threw at them throughout the match they managed to grab two late goals through substitute Nivaldo and Gabriel Mensah for a huge victory.
In fact, with this win Gudja have now leapfrogged Sta Lucia to fourth from bottom on 24 points while Valletta remained three points adrift of Floriana, who certainly saw their hopes of winning a first league title after an absence of 26 years receive a major boost.
The match was devoid of scoring chances for much of the first 45 minutes.
In fact, Valletta looked short of creativity as despite holding much of the possession they could not create openings in the robust Gudja defence which was well marshalled by Juan Bolanos.
In fact, it was Gudja’s Colombian defender who almost did the damage at the other end when he latched to Justin Grioli’s corner kick but he failed to direct his header towards goal after 17 minutes of play.
Valletta responded a minute later when Mario Fontanella accelerated to try and connect with a long pass from his team’s backline but the Italian striker was denied by the onrushing Glenn Zammit, the Gudja goalkeeper.
Scoring chances remained few and far between and we had to wait until the stroke of half-time for another scoring opportunity.
Valletta were awarded a free-kick deep into the left channel but Miguel Alba’s inswinger was tipped over by the alert Zammit.
Four minutes into the second half, Alba threatened again when he connected to Mario Fontanella’s cross but his acrobatic volley finished over.
After that early flurry of chances, Valletta started to lose their lucidity making it easier for the Gudja defend their goal.
Nineteen minutes from time, Rowen Muscat picked Fontanella inside the area but his downward header was saved by Zammit.
Fontanella came close again on 73 minutes but his overhead kick was too central to trouble Zammit.
Ten minutes from time, Gudja did the unexpected when in a quick break Anderson played in substitute Nivaldo and the Brazilian striker hit a rasping drive that gave no chance to Henry Bonello, the Valletta goalkeeper.
Here, Valletta threw more men forward but it was Gudja who grabbed a second goal when in a quick raid Mensah fired an angled drive past Bonello to seal a famous victory for his team.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, S. Malano (M. Piciollo), B. Kaljevic (K. Nwoko), S. Dimech (N. Pulis), J. Borg, E. Pena Beltre, R. Muscat, M. Alba, M. Fontanella.
GUDJA: G. Zammit J. Farrugia, J. Bondin, A. Friggieri (J. Brincat), E. Zarate Bilbao (N. Ferreira), R. Winchester (P. Sammut), L. Cremona, G. Mensah, A. De Barros, A. Bolanos, J. Grioli.
Scorers: 80′ Nivaldo, 90′ G. Mensah (G)
Referee: M. Scerri
Yellow cards: J. Farrugia, E. Zarate, A. De Baros
BOV Player of the Match: J. Bolanos (G)