The Malta Independent 14 April 2024, Sunday
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Premier League: Spirited Citizens block champions for a precious draw

Sunday, 3 March 2024, 06:34 Last update: about 2 months ago

Valletta played arguably one of their best matches this season to snatch a point against league leaders and champions Hamrun Spartans.

The point gained by the Citizens could prove futile at the end of the season as Naxxar gained a precious victory yesterday, but the result will surely lift Val‐ letta’s spirits.

For the first time under iin‐ terim manager Gil Cruz Valletta played a blinder yesterday, ab‐ sorbing the pressure and hitting their opponents in the second half.

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For the Spartans this was a missed opportunity to keep the distance from Floriana as the title race in now more than ever wide open.

The start of the match was very intense with a lot of nasty tackles and incidents, with referee Farrugia having a rather tough afternoon to keep the game under control.

The match was scrappy in the first half an hour with Valletta on the defensive and with the Spar‐ tans taking the initiative. But the goalkeepers were practically never called in action in this part of the match.

On 35 minutes Hamrun had the first opportunity and it was a great opportunity indeed.

Jonny did all the running on the left and passed towards Monte‐ bello whose point blank effort was brilliantly saved by Guarnone.

In stoppage time another good Hamrun move, this time on the right flank with Bruno making his way inside the area and cutting back towards Ryan Camenzuli who shot wide.

Then in the fourth minute of added time Hamrun broke the deadlock.

Again Jonny started the move on the left passing towards Prsa who gave the ball to Duranovic who made no mistake from close range.

In the second half Valletta ven‐ tured forward with the Spartans defence rather shaky.

On 57 minutes Steve Borg slipped and had to foul Cardoso just on the edge of the area with the referee awarding Valletta the penalty.

From the spot Bonello saved Paiber’s effort but from the rebound the same Paiber made no mistake to fire the ball home.

Valletta grew in composure and almost obtained a shock result minutes later when from a Paiber corner, Enzo Ruiz’s header rattled against the cros‐ bar.

Valletta defended well for the rest of the second half with the

Spartans making a last ditch ef‐ fort in the dying minutes of the game.

The Valletta defence passed through some anxious moments but the Lillywhites survived to fight another day, gaining a very precious point when least expected.

Photo: Domenic Aquilina

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