The Malta Independent 19 September 2019, Thursday

BOV Premier League: Two-goal Gomes leads Santa Lucija to stunning opening win against Valletta

Henry Brincat Friday, 23 August 2019, 22:47 Last update: about 26 days ago
Photo: Joseph Galea
Photo: Joseph Galea

Valletta               2
Santa Lucia         3

Valletta: H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, K. Nwoko, E. Pena Beltre, J. Zerafa, D. Packer (S. Dimech 67), R. Muscat (N. Pulis 81), M. Fontanella, Y. Messias, K. Tulimieri (M. Piciollo 58)

Sta Lucija: R. Caruana, G. Bohrer, D. Mendoza, D. Segura, K. Ante Rosero (O. Elouni 83), J. Walker, D. Agius, F. Zuniga, J. Zerafa (L. Galea 77), R. Tachikawa, G. Wilkerson (J. Magri Overend 69)

Referee: T. Farrugia Cann

Asst. Refs: T. Debono, L. Portelli

4th official: I. Barbara

Scorers: W. Gomes 6, 39, M. Fontanella 12, R. Tachikawa 19, K. Nwoko 71

Yellow cards: R. Caruana 72, R. Tachikawa 88

BOV Player of the match: W. Gomes

TMI Top 3: 1. W. Gomes, 2. E. Pena Beltre, 3. D. Mendoza

Attendance: 946

Wilkerson Gomes scored a brace to lead Sta Lucija to a stunning 3-2 win against champions Valletta yesterday evening.

This was the first major surprise of the season which started yesterday. But the Saints did not rob anything.

This important victory is certainly a major boost for the Saints whose aim in this debut season in the Premier League is to avoid relegation.

But for Valletta, it was a 'super' disappointment, if not a humiliation. They failed miserably as they looked weak at the back and in midfield against the spirited and fast Sta Lucija strikers.

The first half was a veritable shock for the champions who were taken completely by surprise.

The Saints were undoubtedly the better team, showing the better ideas and creating the best goal chances.

Valletta were found wanting at the back as the defence was ripped apart by the Saints' front duo of Gomes and Tachikawa.

At the back, Valletta missed the services of the injured Jonathan Caruana while in midfield, Rowen Muscat and Douglas Packer found it difficult to take the sector in their hands, although Pena Beltre worked well and hard on the right flank.

Had Oliver Spiteri's boys taken all the chances which came their way they could have built a much more comfortable lead than the 3-1 which they enjoyed at the interval.

In the second half, Valletta attacked insistently, but without much success, until the 71st minute when Kyrian Nwoko finally found the net with a header to reduce the gap.

The Saints defended with all their might keeping the champions at bay for most of the remaining minutes.

What was also surprising was the number of Sta Lucija players who were seen lying on the surface and had to be treated for injuries suffered. This led to the award of an extra six minutes by Mr Farrugia Cann.

Sta Lucija were the first to threaten, but goalie Bonello saved a Daniel Agius good effort quite comfortably.

Immediately afterwards, the Saints shocked the citizens as they took a surprise lead. It was Wilkerson Gomes who surprised goalie Bonello with a long distance shot from the far end of the penalty area.

Valletta did not take long to equalise as six minutes later, Mario Fontanella received a good pass from Joseph Zerafa and beat goalie Caruana with a low shot.

The Saints were not to be undone as they were back in the lead in the 19th minute. It was Rei Tachikawa who fired a 20-metre shot which again surprised goalie Bonello for the ball to finish at the back of the net.

In the 35th minute, Jacob Walker tried his luck from the edge of the area, but his effort went wide.

The Saints could have added a third goal when in a swift counter-attack on 38 minutes, Tachikawa set Wilkerson Gomes who advanced into the City area only to see his effort blocked by Bonello.

The third, however, arrived a few moments later, when Diego Segura set Gomes who lifted a brilliant lob over goalie Bonello and into the net.

Valletta replied with a Zerafa shot which was well saved by goalie Caruana.

The Saints missed a good chance to increase their lead in the 45th minute when Kevin Ante Rosero set Walker who advanced unhindered only to shoot well over the bar.

Valletta went out on attack in the second half and on 50 minutes, a Pena Beltre cross found no takers in front of goal.

On 55 minutes from a Yuri Messias cross, Kyrian Nwoko had a header going well over the bar.

Fontanella thought he had put the champions back in contention on 61 minutes when he found the net, but he was rightly ruled offside.

In the 66th minute, Pena Beltre advanced into the Saints' area only to lift his shot well over the bar from the angle.

Four minutes later, it was Messias who received a good ball in the area, but he missed the target as goalie Caruana rushed out of his charge to thwart the City striker.

Valletta reduced the deficit on 71 minutes when following a Joseph Zerafa cross, Fontanella headed the ball towards Kyrian Nwoko who made no mistake with another header from close in.

In the 87th minute, Mendoza had a good effort going just over the bar.

That was the last action before the final whistle which saw the newly promoted Saints fans giving a deserved standing ovation to their favourites.

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