All the anguish endured by Valletta following their defeat against Hibernians was soon forgotten as Mark Millerâ€™s troops triumphed in what they consider the most important match at all, against their arch-rivals Floriana.
Signed from Birkirkara on transfer deadline day, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza was watching the game from the stand as Vallettaâ€™s initial formation showed two alterations to the side defeated by Hibernians. Tunisian midfielder Abdelkarim Nafti was handed his full debut, taking the place of Shawn Bajada as Ian Zammit replaced the suspended Denni.
The duo combined well after 11 minutes but Zammitâ€™s effort was well wide off the mark.
In midfield, exchanges were not particularly fluent but Floriana looked less predictable, going forward and with more steadiness in front of goal could have given his team the lead past the half hour mark. But he hesitated when in front of Pietro Marino and was eventually blocked by Hamza Barry.
At the other end, Barry gave the illusion of goal as his free-kick flashed against the side-netting. But the Lilywhites didnâ€™t have to wait long to break the deadlock. In the first- half stoppage time, Naftiâ€™s long-range cross from the middle of the pitch soared into the box where Zammit rose unmarked to direct a looping header of the startled Mintoff and into the far corner of the net.
Bouyed by their advantage, Valletta tore out of the blocks at the start of the second half. Floriana blocked an effort Zammit three minutes into the second half. From the resultant corner, Nafti arrowed his cross towards the centre of the box where Vandelannoite towered above everyone but his header was wide.
Six minutes later, it was Nyang who was on the receiving end of another inviting cross by Nafti but his far-post header was hooked off the line by Scicluna. From the ensuing corner, with another delivery by the Tunisian midfielder, the Gambian striker caught the ball sweetly on the half volley just outside the area to beat Mintoff low to the goalkeeperâ€™s left-hand post.
After 69 minutes, Nafti engineered another good move as he delivered another clever pull-back to Nyang who was off target with a acrobatic scissor-kick.
Rarely can a substitute have had such an immediate impact as Romulo Marques Antoneli when Dimech passed the ball to the Brazilian who helped Valletta put the game to bed with his first touch of the ball with 14 minutes remaining.
Article by : Times Of Malta
Photo by: Paul Zammit Cutajar (MFA)