The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

Floriana lift 21st FA Trophy after extra time win over rivals Valletta

Simon Farrugia Monday, 16 May 2022, 06:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Floriana are the winners of the Izibet FA Trophy after defeating neighbours and eternal rivals Valletta by the odd goal in three after extra time.

The final proved to be an entertaining match with over six thousand spectators watching from the stands, the best attendance this season. For the Greens this was their 21st success in this Competition and have thus reached Sliema Wanderers at the top of the honours list.

ADVERTISEMENT

This was the ninth final between these two sides with Floriana winning six against the three finals won by Valletta.

Floriana were by far the better side especially in the first half though their opponents improved significantly in the second forty five minutes. But they need extra time to emerge winners and despite missing a penalty the notched the winner through a wonder strike by their Rumanin forward Ciolacu.

This win for Floriana was welcomed also by Gżira United who qualified for the UEFA Europa Conference League as the fourth placed team in the Premier League. As for Valletta there will be no European football next season.

Valletta welcomed back Ivan Curjuric who started instead of Kevin Tulimieri with Floriana effecting two changes from their semi final win against Hibernians. In went Camenzuli and Keqi instead of Cassar and the suspended Reid.

Floriana made their intentions clear from the start and just a minute had passed when Busuttil rounded a defender and tested Guarnone with an acute shot. On 5 minutes Garcia supplied a cross from the right flank with Guarnone saving a close-range shot by Arias. ound and served Garcia whose cross was well-met by Arias who headed wide.

The Greens kept mounting the pressure and four minutes later Keqi shot over the bar following an Arias corner.

But they took the lead on 19 minutes when Arias made his way on the left side and delivered a cross which was perfectly headed into the corner of the net by Jan Busuttil.

Valletta’s reaction was nowhere to see with Floriana insisting on the offensive. Valletta’s Italian goalkeeper blocked on Paiber and just past the half hour Busuttil’s shot was once again saved by Guarnone.

With Floriana going close once again on the stroke of half time only for Keqi to missed a good opportunity when he hit wide though well placed.

Valletta started the second half better and on 51 minutes they were awarded a penalty after Zammit was brought down in the area by Magri Overend.  The referee pointed to the penalty spot and following harsh protests from the Floriana players Mario Fontanella converted to level matters.

This was what Valletta needed and in the 65th minute an Andrea Zammit shot was blocked by the Greens rearguard. Two minutes later Pena Beltre found Promise but his headed effort was saved by Kitanov.

Guarnone was called again into action twenty minutes from time saving an Arias freekick. And on the other end Kitanov saved on Zammit.

Four minutes from time Andrei Ciolacu saw his low shot from outside the area saved by Guarnone.

The game went into extra time  and Floriana had a glorious opportunity to take the lead on again when they were awarded a penalty just before the end of the first half of extra-time. Muscat was adjudged in bringing down Daniel Agius but from the spot Jan Busuttil hit wide to the despair of his team mates and supporters.

But the winning goal arrived in the sixth minute of the second period of extra time. A cross by Busuttil was perfectly volleyed by Ciolacu from the edge of the area leaving Guarnone stranded.

Till the end the Greens controlled well with the final whistle bringing great celebrations by the Floriana players, technical staff, administrators and above all their numerous supporters.

The National Stadium erupted when Matias Garcia was presented with the Izibet FA Trophy by MFA President Bjorn Vassallo.

Photo: Dominic Aquilina
  • don't miss