The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

BOV Premier League: Citizens win tense derby with late Alba strike

Chris Cassar Sunday, 4 November 2018, 18:17 Last update: about 13 days ago
Photo: Jonathan Bugeja
Photo: Jonathan Bugeja

Valletta                1
Floriana                0

Valletta: H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, S. Malano, M. Picciolo (K. Nwoko 46'), E. Pena Beltre, J. Zerafa, I. Saleh (B. Gavrila 68'), R. Muscat, M. Alba, M. Fontanella (J. Caruana 84').

Floriana: I. Akpan, M. Saleh, S. Pisani, C. Borg, M. Vella (I. Varela 68'), J. Cabral, C. Failla, J. Pisani, T. Galvao, A. Oyama (D. Agius 86'), E. Marcelina.

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Referee: Philip Farrugia

Ass. Referees: Luke Portelli, William Debattista

Scorers: M.A. Alba 81'

Yellow cards: I. Saleh, R. Muscat, M. Saleh, M. Vella, S. Malano, J. Pisani, K. Nwoko,

Player of the match: Miguel Angel Alba (Valletta)

TMI best three: 1. M.A. Alba, 2. J. Zerafa, 3. E. Marcelina

Attendance; 3,541

Valletta claimed the derby victory against arch rivals Floriana, thanks to a Miguel Angel Alba low drive nine minutes from time. It was a well deserved victory for the champions who struggled in the first half, but were dominant in the second period and emerged worthy winners.

This seventh successive win for the champions was the most difficult, as their goal machine which scored 27 goals in the last six matches, was not lubricated enough yesterday afternoon, and striker Bojan Kaljevic, still injured, was sorely felt.

For Floriana this was the third successive defeat, but at least the Greens went down fighting. As expected the Greens gave their best against their biggest rivals and could have even snatched a point with some luck.

Floriana shared the exchanges in the first half, but had to defend in the second half as they were squashed by valletta's superiority in midfield and on the flanks.

Valletta were again without start striker Bojan Kaljevic and fielded the same formation that outclassed Mosta 5-0 in the last outing. Floriana were without the suspended Enzo Ruiz, and had to make an alteration in defence with Emerson Marcelina playing as a central defender with Jurgen Pisani.

Valletta did the early running with Floriana on the defensive in the opening minutes. However the Citizens were less spectacular than in their last outings, as Floriana covered well al spaces and Akpan was never tested.

Valletta had to wait till the 31st minute to have their first opportunity when Pena Beltre's cross from the right was met by Fontanella who however shot well over the bar. On 37 minutes Floriana's first shot with a Juninho Cabral freekick going wide.

Floriana were the better team in the final minutes of the first half as the Valletta defence committed a lot of mistakes under pressure, and the Citizens were unable to break away in counter attacks.

For the second half Valletta introduced Kyrian Nwoko with Picciolo remaining in the dressing room. On 54 minutes Valletta went close with a great move on the left and with Akpan making a great save off Ibrahim Saleh.

The derby was now becoming nervous and Malano and Maurizio Vella almost came to blows and were both booked. Valletta exherted full pressure in the second half with Floriana practically confined to their own half.

Gavrila came on as a substitute as Doncic tried to penetrate the Floriana wall. On 70 Nwoko tested Akpan from a distance but the Greens' custodian saved well Minutes later Akpan blocked Alba's low drive as Valletta were now in full forcing.

Nine minutes from time Valletta's siege gave the desired fruit as Miguel Angel Alba beat Akpan with a low drive from the edge of the area after a fast break started by Nwoko. Floriana however almost obtained a dramatic equaliser two minutes later when Henry Bonello made a great save off a Cabral drive.

Jonathan Caruana came in for Fontanella as Valletta tried to consolidate their defensive set up and conserve their precious lead. Floriana made a desperate last ditch effort to save the game, but the final whistle sent the numerous Valletta in festive mood.

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