The Malta Independent 23 June 2021, Wednesday

Champions Floriana rise from the ashes to add more misery on neighbours Valletta

Chris Cassar Monday, 7 December 2020, 06:38 Last update: about 8 months ago

Champions Floriana rose from the ashes yesterday, beating Valletta convincingly to add more misery to their neighbours and eternal rivals. Floriana still smarting from the defeat against Mosta and some other opaque displays, rose to the occasion inflicting a sever lesson on Valletta, who are now in serious trouble and practically out of the title contention.

The already depleted Valletta, yesterday under the guidance of Gilbert Agius for the first time after the resignation of Jesmond Zerafa, also lost Pena Beltre early in the game, and were no match to their opponents.

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The Citizens lacked punch once again in attack as they are finding it very hard to find the back of the net. Moreover they looked vulnerable at the back and Floriana found it surprisingly easy to get through the Valletta defensive lines whenever they wanted to.

Floriana were once again without midfield supremo Diego Venancio, and Gilbert Agius had to do without goalkeeper Henry Bonello, Rowen Muscat, Matteo Piciollo, and Kyrian Nwoko.

Yenz Cini was immediately called to the fore after four minutes when he denied Arias who was brilliantly put through by Paiber. This was the first warning sound that the Citizens were shaky at the back.

Valletta tried to control the midfield sector and held the initiative but the Greens were ready to pounce on any occasion to catch the Citizens on the wrong foot. Zerafa almost surprised Akpan with a long range effort but on 25 minutes Floriana took the lead.

Arias’ long ball was easy prey for Kristian Keqi who practically ran half pitch unhindered before beating Cini with a low drive. This was practically the end of Valletta’s hopes as they never gave the impression they had enough power to trouble the Greens.

Twelve minutes into the second half a Triston Caruana freekick tested Akpan and on the other end Keqi’s effort was saved by Cini. On 72 minutes Floriana gave Valletta the knock-out blow when Jan Busuttil passed towards Arias, who beat the offisde trap and easily placed the ball at the back of Cini’s net.

Three minutes later Valletta’s downfall was complete when Joseph Zerafa, arguably one of the best for his side, received a second booking. Valletta were now completely at the mercy of their opponents and the Greens showed little of it adding more misery two minutes from time when Jan Busuttil opened up for Keqi who crowned an excellent performance by scoring his second of the day.

Photo Domenic Aquilina

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