The Malta Independent 19 September 2019, Thursday

Waterpolo, Div I Knockout: Birżebbuġa upset Valletta to qualify for the final

Stewart Said Saturday, 10 August 2019, 19:15 Last update: about 2 months ago

BIRŻEBBUĠA FREEPORT........... 12

VALLETTA VIDEOSLOTS............ 11

(2-3), (4-4), (5-2), (1-2)

Birżebbuġa are through to the final as they managed to defeat favourites Valletta Videoslots 12-11 to book a place in the final against Marsaskala. The third session was vital for their win as they caught off guard their opponents to take a good lead that Valletta couldn't recover from.

This result is another disappointment for Valletta as they not only didn't play in Premier Division this year but they will surely not do the double in First Division. They had the upper hand in the first two sessions but failed to control the foreigners Antonio Petkovic and Antun Goreta who scored ten out of the 12 goals of Pierre Borg's team.

Charlie Zammit gave Valletta the edge late in the first session scoring from his usual position. Dmitri Kholod put Valletta in the lead from penalty until Antun Goreta equalised midway through the session. Jake Bajada put Birżebbuġa 2-1 in front winning a battle against Zammit but Sasa Misic equalised from the centre until Zammit made it 3-2 for the citizens.

Birżebbuġa started the second session on a high as David Pace Lupi and Antun Goreta gave Birżebbuġa the lead after the first minute. Valletta did regain their lead twice in this session, first when Andrea Bianchi made it 6-5 and after Petkovic equalised from penalty, Misic scored in the last action of the session.

Birżebbuġa turned the tables in the third session as Petkovic scored twice in the first two minutes of the session to put his team. The Croatian scored another goal while Antun Goreta scored a brace to stretch the lead to a deserved 11-7. Dmitri Kholod kept Valletta in the game, scoring twice in the last minutes of the session.

The goal by James Spiteri Staines early in the last session strengthened Valletta's hopes to recover but Antun Goreta's goal after bad positioning from the Valletta defence, proved to be pivotal. Andrea Bianchi scored late in the game to keep Valletta with a chance to save the match, but Birżebbuġa defended well in the last seconds.

Birżebbuġa: D. Spiteri, M. Borg, N. Cassar, D. Pace Lupi (1), C. Mifsud, A. Petkovic (5), S. Vassallo, D. Cutajar, J. Bajada (1), M. Cutajar, A. Goreta (5), M. Ortoleva, J. Cremona, C. Farrugia, R. Spiteri

Valletta: R. Sciortino, J. Spiteri Staines (1), A. Agius, P. Borg, A. Bianchi (2), R. Mock, D. Paolella, M. Mifsud, M. Cordina (1), M. Zammit, D. Kholod (3), N. Farrugia, R. Bonnici, S. Misic (3), C. Zammit (1)

Referees: Peter Balzan, Alessio Nicolai

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