valletta u1530.9.18    Victor Ciangura

Birkirkara and Valletta share top spot on 7 points each after Valletta won against Lija-Iklin. The Citizens and the Stripes will now cross swords next Sunday and the winner of this game will compete in Section A and the loser in Section B. If the game ends in a draw a decider will be required to determine the Group Winner.

Valletta dominated the proceedings from start to finish as Lija-Iklin only created two actions worthy of note. After three minutes Lija-Iklin mounted an action as Kieron Galdes served Callum Micallef on the right flank but he was foiled from further progression by a defender’s timely tackle. The initiative was soon regained by Valletta as they pressed their opponents in their own area . Keiran Scicluna served Daniel Letherby on the right flank and the ball was cleared to a corner from his cross and after the flag kick by Klose Azzopardi Conti, Deacon Abela drove slightly over the bar from inside the area. Azzopardi Conti after dribbling past two opponents served Letherby with a square pass and he drove over the bar from outside the area. Letherby was then fouled outside the area and the ball was cleared with difficulty following the free kick by Javier Farrugia. Azzopardi Conti served Gabriel Desira with a short pass from the flag kick and after his hard drive from the edge of the area the ball was cleared away with difficult and Letherby then dribbled past an opponent outside the area and Lija-Iklin keeper Benjamin Dingli saved his shot from the distance. In the 20th minute Valletta deservedly forged ahead. Azzopardi Conti was fouled on the right flank and after the cross from the free kick by Farrugia the ball was cleared with difficulty just outside the area and Desira was on hand to bury the ball home with a hard and low first-timer. The pressure by Valletta resumed as Alexei Borg released Letherby in the area and a defender cleared the ball to a corner after his low drive and after Azzopardi Conti’s flag kick the ball was cleared away with difficulty. Borg then released Abela on the right flank and following his high cross in the area the ball was headed away, the same player then missed the upright from inside the area with an open goal at his mercy after another perfect pass by Borg. Five minutes before the break Valletta doubled their lead as Scicluna dribbled past an opponent on the right flank and after his low cross in the area Letherby scored with a low drive. Valletta mounted the first action after the restart. Amir Amhamed served Azzopardi Conti on the left flank and after his low cross in the area the ball was cleared away. In a rare action by Lija-Iklin Aaron Stagno was fouled in midfield and after Sebastian Farrugia’s free-kick the ball was easily cleared away. The score became 3-0 in the 50th minute when Azzopardi Conti was served with a long and high through ball just outside the area and as Dingli came out of his charge to try and narrow the angle he calmly lobbed the ball over him and into the net. After this goal, the pressure resumed until the final whistle. From a well-taken free kick by Farrugia from the right edge of the area the ball missed the far post by inches. Substitute Jeshua Chircop served Azzopardi Conti on the left flank and after entering the area he missed the upright by a whisker. Substitute Francesco Zahra was fouled outside the area and Dingli saved in two attempts from the free kick by Abela and he did likewise minutes later after Chircop served Zahra with a square pass just outside the area.

Lija-Iklin: B.Dingli, A.Agius, D.Micallef, S.Farrugia (Capt), J.Zahra, D.Xuereb Pavia, K.Micallef, J.Cumbo, C.Micallef, A.Stagno, K.Galdes

Valletta: A.Pisani, A.Borg, A.Amhamed, D.Abela (Capt), J.Farrugia, M.Azzopardi, D.Letherby, G.Desora, K.Azzopardi Conti, K.Scicluna, A.Portelli,

Player of the match: Klose Azzopardi Conti (Valletta)

Referee: Matthias Buttigieg