The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

BOV Premier League: Pena Beltre 94th minute equaliser saves champions

Chris Cassar Sunday, 15 September 2019, 22:16 Last update: about 29 days ago
Photos: Domenic Aquilina
Photos: Domenic Aquilina

Valletta                1
Floriana                1

Valletta: H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri (K. Nwoko 87’), M. Piciollo, E. Pena Beltre, J. Zerafa, R. Muscat, I. Dzaria (S. Dimech 71’), M. Fontanella, Y. Messias (B. Kaljevic 59’), K. Tulimieri

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Floriana: I.E. Akpan, E. Ruiz, D. Venancio, K. Keqi, J. Arias, B. Paiber (C. Borg 62’), J. Pisani, M. Garcia (M. Muhamadou 89’), A. Caseres (E. Herrera 84’), A. Cini, R. Camenzuli

Referee: Matthew Degabriele

Ass.referees: Alan Camilleri, Luke Portelli

Fourth Official: Stefan Pace

Scorers: K. Keqi 47’ pen, E. Pena Beltre 94’

Yellow cards: B. Paiber 16’, K. Tulimieri, B. Kaljevic 71’, C. Borg 72’, J. Pisani 79’, J. Zerafa 80’

Player of the match: Kristian Keqi

TMI Best Three: 1. K. Keqi, 2. R. Muscat, 3. E. Ruiz

Attendance: 3,737

Pena Beltre scored with the last shot of the match to give champions Valletta an important draw against Floriana in a tense derby in front of a very good crowd. Floriana were heading towards victory thanks to a Keqi penalty scored at the start of the second half, and thanks to a well organised defensive setup that gave the Valletta forwards little or no space to operate.

The first half was rather balanced with Valletta holding the inititiative, but Floriana were always menacing when they ventured forward, even hitting the base of the upright. After the penalty scored by Floriana, Valletta attacked for the rest of the match, but they failed to impress and the Pena Beltre desperate strike, at least avoided the Citizens a rather embarassing defeat against their arch rivals.

The match had an electrifying start with Messias testing Akpan after a good run on the right. A few minutes it was Floriana’s turn to create havoc in the Valletta defence when from a corner action the Valletta defence failed to clear and Keqi’s overhead kick went wide.

On 15 minutes a Messias freekick went over the bar and some minutes later a Dzaria deflected header just missed the upright. Five minutes later Floriana were very close to take when a Venancio long range effort hit the outer part of the base of the upright.

On 26 minutes in a Valletta break, Dzaria blasted over the bar following another good move on the right between Messias and Pena Beltre.

At the start of the second half Floriana took an immediate lead. Keqi made his way inside the Valletta area with a formidable run, only to be blocked by Steve Borg, with the referee awarding the penalty and the same Keqi fired in the top corner of the net.

Valletta struggled but moved forward with Tulimieri hitting the side netting. On 55 minutes a good Valletta move was finished off by a Tulimieri fierce drive that was well saved by Akpan.

Valletta practically played the remaining minutes of the game in Floriana’s half, but they could not find a way past Floriana’s packed defence. Dzaria had a good opportunity but his weak drive missed the base of the upright and substitute Nwoko’s header failed to worry Akpan.

With seconds ticking away Valletta’s attacks were now desperate and caothic, but when all appeared lost the champions managed to find the back of the net. A Kevin Tulimieri corner created havoc in the Floriana area, with Kaljevic’s shot somehow blocked by a Floriana defender and then Pena Beltre’s shot was deflected by Herrera before finishing at the back of the net, for the relief of the Valletta supporters.

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