The Malta Independent 21 October 2018, Sunday

Football Premier League: Valletta join Gzira at the top as Clavero steers Hamrun to victory

Saturday, 21 October 2017, 20:00 Last update: about 13 months ago

VALLETTA                       6


Valletta: H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, J. Cruz, S. Malano (C. Pani), M. Picciollo, K. Nwoko, J. Borg, J. Zerafa (R. Muscat), R. Saleh, D. Dos Santos (R. Fenech)


Tarxien R: C. Cassar, E. Baker, G. McKay (A. Azzopardi), J. Brincat, A. Agius, L. Grech, R. Darmanin (M. Traore), A. Benes, E. Calin (M. Spiteri), R. Faria, S. Cipriott

Referee: I. Barbara

Asst.refs: M. Scerri, P. Apap

4th official: P. Farrugia

Scorers: J. Cruz 10, K. Nwoko 34, 82, S. Malano 44, M. Piciollo 51, R. Fenech 80

Yellow cards: L. Grech, M. Traore

Player of the match: D. Dos Santos (Valletta)

TMI top 3: 1. D. Dos Santos  2. K. Nwoko  3. J. Zerafa

Attendance: 805


Silvio Vella



Valletta reach for the summit after cruise


Valletta scored three goals in each half to brush aside Tarxien Rainbows' feeble challenge with swagger and plenty to spare at the Centenary Stadium yesterday to join Gzira United at the summit of the BoV Premier League.

This one-sided game reflected the steel that Valletta have added to their play, winning their last three matches on the trot, but this was the biggest of the season so far.

Denni Dos Santos was bright in working the set pieces and Tarxien always looked uncomfortable defending them.

Kyrian Nwoko, with all his eye-catching skills in attack, scored a brace, after Cruz had opened the scoring. Malano, Piciollo and Fenech were Valletta's other scorers in a six-goal romp.

Both teams went into this game in some vein of good form, having won their previous two matches.

Valletta were an unchanged side yesterday and Tarxien's coach Jose Borg made two changes. Without the suspended Andre Scicluna and Ayrton Azzopardi starting on the bench, Godwin McKay and Andrew Agius were handed starts.

Valletta enjoyed the expected majority of possesssion in the first half. They took a comfortable three-goal lead that could have been even wider had they taken all their chances.

They made the breakthrough after only ten minutes when Nwoko's effort, on a Denni free kick, was palmed out by Tarxien keeper Christian Cassar only for Juan Cruz to hit in from close range.

Valletta, playing with more confidence, threatened again towards the quarter hour. Denni played the ball low from a corner kick and Saleh dragged it narrowly wide.

Midway through the half, Nwoko powered himself inside the Tarxien area, sent a low cross for Denni, but his effort was blaocked into a corner.

Valletta doubled their lead past the half hour. A Piciollo low cross from near the byeline was poorly cleared by the Tarxien defence and Kyrian Nwoko scored with a low drive.

Valletta even scored a third shortly before halftime. Valletta won a corner after a Denni effort was held out by keeper Cassar. From the resultant Denni flag kick, the ball fell to Santiago Malano at the far post to tap it in.

That made them look comfortable.

Valletta remained dominant as their tempo picked up again after the interval and the Rainbows were not quite matching their enduring briskness with clear-cut moments of danger.

On 51 minutes, from a Denni corner, Borg headed towards the middle for Matteo Piciollo to head past the helpless Tarxien keeper.

More would have followed had Saleh, again benefiting from negligent defending, not misssed the target after running into space to pick Denni's pass.

Faria passed up on a rare presentable chance for Tarxien on 75 minutes as he ran down the right, hitting the bar with his cross shot.

But the direction of traffic soon reversed again from that point. With ten minutes remaining, Kyrian Nwoko had a hand in Valletta's last two goals. He first was the provider, playing the ball square, from inside the area, to substitute Russel Fenech to put his name on the scoresheet.

And with Tarxien's defence pulled hopelessly out of shape, the Valletta striker finished confidently himself within two more minutes to complete the rout.


Photos: Jonathan Bugeja


SENGLEA ATHLETIC             1



Senglea A: G. Cetrangolo, R. Vella, S. Bonnici (P. Sammut), H. Vella, A. Terracino, M. Garzia, G. Virano, N. Palmieri, I. Paz, R. Caseres (T. Vella), I. Azzopardi (J. Farrugia)

Hamrun S: J. Galea, P. Chircop (C. Zaccardo), D. Zerafa, T. Caruana, T. Agius, T. Souza, G. Castro, T. Espindola, L. Micallef, S. Arab (K. Micallef), F. Clavero (D. Camilleri)

Referee: S. Spiteri

Asst.refs: J. Spiteri, P. Abela

4th official: M. Apap

Scorers: R. Caseres 12, T. Caruana 40, F. Clavero 56 pen, T. Souza 85

Yellow cards: T. Caruana, R. Vella, P. Chircop, A. Terracino

Red card: I. Paz

Player of the match: F. Clavero (Hamrun S)

TMI top 3: 1. F. Clavero  2. G. De Castro  3. M. Garzia





 Silvio Vella


'Cico' steers Hamrun in right direction


Francisco 'Cico' Clavero returned in Hamrun's starting line-up to steer his side to victory against Senglea Athletic, with a sparkling performance that earned him the 'Player of the match' accolade.

The Brazilian also scored a penalty.

This victory has Hamrun moving in the right direction once more and lifts them into fifth place together with Floriana (who play today) while a third consecutive defeat leaves Senglea facing a slump.

The Spartans recovered well after a sluggish start and after falling behind to Caseres' opening goal for Senglea.

They equalised through Triston Caruana before halftime and turned the tables with a 'Cico' penalty and a late third goal by Tiago Souza in the second half, after Paz missed a penalty for Senglea and the same player was dismissed six minutes from the end.

Both coaches tweaked their sides, following defeats in their previous outing. Hamrun had Dale Camilleri, Christian Zaccardo and Karl Micallef all used as substitutes, with Jake Galea replacing Sultana in goal.

Senglea had new Italian goalkeeper Giulio Cetrangolo making his debut yesterday as Rene Caseres returned to the side.

The onus was on Hamrun to seize the initiative but Senglea took control instead, pressing high and passing with pleasing crispness and intent, threatening on the left thanks to Paz's runs. Their boldness paid off when Rene Caseres, capitalising on some open space in Hamrun's left defensive flank, hit a powerful shot past the Hamrun keeper after 12 minutes.

Hamrun toiled as they sought to overcome Senglea's diligence and organisation and nearly fell further behind on 22 minutes when, from a Paz corner, Bonnici clipped the bar with his ballooning header.

But as Senglea were building the momentum, a rare slip in their rearguard allowed the Spartans to level matters five minutes before the break. An Espindola deep cross from the left found Triston Caruana unmarked in front of the Senglea goal to score with a free header.

On the stroke of halftime, Senglea went close again with a Virano header going just over, off a Garzia cross.

Hamrun were forced to replace Siraj Arab, suffering from a hamstring injury, at the start of the second half and Senglea also had the injured Caseres carried  off, replaced by Terence Vella soon after they had substituted Azzopardi with Jurgen Farrugia.

Suddenly Senglea were losing control, bereft of wit or spark, as Hamrun had fully recovered their composure. On 56 minutes, Bonnici's late tackle on De Castro earned the Spartans a penalty which 'Cico' ably converted to give his side the lead for the first time in the match. Worse, Senglea's Bonnici was also stretchered off. Garzia dropped in the centre of the defence.

Senglea's growing frustration took an extra dimension on 68 minutes. Substitute Terence Vella was bundled by Souza and Micallef as he ran inside the Hamrun area to win a penalty. But as Paz stepped up to take responsibility, keeper Galea guessed the right direction and held out his effort.

Hamrun could have added further goals but on 79 minutes. Substitute Zaccardo tried to lob the ball, when left unmarked inside the Senglea area, sending his effort over, and a minute later Souza hit his free kick against the bar.

Woes only deepened for Senglea when Paz was sent off for kicking Zaccardo six minutes from the end.

And Hamrun duly obliged with a third goal one minute later as Tiago Souza headed in De Castro's free kick to sum up a miserable afternoon for Senglea.


Photos: Jonathan Bugeja

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