Matchday 16: Valletta 0 Floriana 0
Despite ending the game with nine men, Valletta earned a point in a goalless draw in the clash with rivals Floriana.
Considering that they had to play with ten men for over an hour, the Citizens must be satisfied with the result as this draw leaves them three points behind their rivals. However, Valletta have a game in hand and they play Sirens on Wednesday.
Floriana, on the other hand, were expected to take advantage of the early dismissal of Rowen Muscat but just like it was the case against Birkirkara, they failed to make this count and had to settle for a draw which means they stay seventh in the table.
Gianluca Atzori made one change to the team as Carlo Zammit Lonardelli was preferred to Zachary Cassar. Serbian forward Alen Melunovic, who joined the club earlier this week, was included as a substitute.
On the other hand, Valletta coach Thane Micallef handed Muscat and Federico Falcone a start, including new signing William Jebor as a substitute.
In the opening minutes, the Citizens showed the better ideas and on 15 minutes, they went close with a Muscat effort ending just wide. Three minutes later, Federico Falcone delivered a great cross for Andrea Zammit whose conclusion just missed the target.
Floriana replied with a pass from Mattia Veselji to Kemar Reid on 21 minutes which saw the Jamaican forward control the ball before testing Guarnone with a shot from inside the area which was parried by the Valletta goalkeeper.
Andrea Zammit hit back for Valletta with a freekick from the left which ended high two minutes later.
Valletta were reduced to ten men on 32 minutes as Muscat was sent off for kicking Ulises Arias. From the resulting freekick by Reid, Guarnone performed a good save.
Just before half-time, Floriana threatened with a Lorenzo Trillo cross which was partially saved by the Valletta custodian with Eslit Sala heading the ball into a corner.
Floriana were expected to go all out in search of victory during the second half but Valletta, who had Triston Caruana replacing Zammit on the restart, kept the situation under control.
On 55 minutes, an Arias effort from outside the area was deflected by a defender and saved by Guarnone. Six minutes later, Reid entered the area but his shot was blocked and Arias’ effort from the edge of the area was neutralised by the Valletta custodian. Guarnone then performed good saves on Matias Garcia on 67 minutes and Jan Busuttil three minutes later. Valletta hit back with a ball from Kilian Bevis to William whose powerful drive from the edge of the area was turned into a corner by Kitanov.
Lorenzo De Grazia tried his luck with a cross-shot from the right on 77 minutes but Alessandro Guarnone saved and a minute later, the Valletta custodian anticipated Reid following an inviting cross by Busuttil from the right. Reid concluded a good run on the left flank with a shot that was neutralised by Guarnone three minutes from time. Three minutes in added time, Valletta had another player sent off as Enmy Pena Beltre received a second yellow card for ball-handling.
Source: Times of Malta
VALLETTA: A. Guarnone, E. Ruiz, A. Zammit (46 T. Caruana), S. Dimech (90 C. Gauci), E. Pena Beltre, F. Falcone (62 W. Jebor), B. Kamdem, B. Paiber, R. Muscat, E. Sala (89 U. N’Nomo), K. Bevis..
FLORIANA: G. Kitanov, A. Magri Overend, O. El Hasni, M. Veselji (59 J. Busuttil), K. Reid, U. Arias (72 A. Melunovic), M. Garcia, C. Zammit Lonardelli (80 J. Scicluna), L. De Grazia, L. Trillo, E. Callegari.
Referee: M. De Gabriele
Yellow Cards: R. Muscat, E. Pena Beltre, K. Reid, M. Garcia
Red Cards: Rowen Muscat, Enmy Pena Beltre (V).
Man of the Match: A. Guarnnone (V)