BOV Premier League | Tarxien Rainbows 0 – Valletta 2

Valletta are momentarily on level points with Balzan after securing a 2-0 win over Tarxien Rainbows.

Gabriel Aquilina (Tarxien) and Ibrahim Raed Saleh (Valletta) in action. Photo: Dominic Borg
Gabriel Aquilina (Tarxien) and Ibrahim Raed Saleh (Valletta) in action. Photo: Dominic Borg

The second match at the National Stadium saw two teams with different aspirations facing off each other. Valletta knew that a win was a must if they are to keep the pace with Balzan. On the other hand, Tarxien also needed to take something out of the match in order to keep on fighting against relegation.

Jose Borg made just one change to the team that held Sliema Wanderers in a 1-1 draw. Antonio Mitrev took Andre Scicluna’s place.

Danilo Doncic decided to make two alterations to the team that was held by Birkirkara in a goalless draw. Henry Bonello and Kyrian Nwoko were replaced by Nicky Vella and Matteo Piciollo.

The first half was relatively quiet. Valletta controlled possession, but failed to create a lot of opportunities as Tarxien’s defence remained solid.

The Rainbows went close after seven minutes. Wellingtom De Oliveira Viera passed the ball towards Ricardo Silva Faria whose close range shot was blocked by Nicky Vella.

Valletta hit back on the 17th minute. Miguel Angel Alba hit a shot from distance that was tipped behind by Andrea Cassar.

The citizens created another chance on the 33rd minute. Matteo Piciollo sent a cross in the direction of Albert Prosa whose effort went wide.

Danilo Doncic’s side nearly opened the score two minute prior to half-time. Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre delivered a cross towards Prosa who failed to make adequate contact with the ball from inside the goal area.

Valletta increased the tempo during the second half and managed to trouble Tarxien on a number of occasions.

On the 50th minute, Piciollo hit a shot from the right that was saved by Cassar.

From the resulting corner, Valletta forged ahead. Miguel Angel Alba sent a cross towards Santiago Malano whose effort went past Andrea Cassar.

Valletta doubled their advantage on the 55th minute. Following a defensive mistake, Piciollo went through on goal and placed the ball inside the net.

Three minutes later, Piciollo hit a low shot that sailed centimetres off target.

Cassar was on the alert to deny Valletta from scoring again on the 62nd minute. Alba received the ball from Piciollo and sent a thumping strike that got the best out of Tarxien’s goalkeeper.

Tarxien’s chances took another set-back on the 66th minute when Ebiabowei Baker was given his marching orders by the referee after being shown his second yellow card.

Two minutes later, Kyrian Nwoko received a pass inside the penalty area and fired a strong shot that went over.

Valletta kept on dominating and nearly scored again on the 72nd minute. Piciollo delivered the ball towards Ibrahim Raed Saleh whose shot failed to hit the target.

Four minutes later, Nwoko sent a low shot from inside the penalty area that was tipped for a corner by Cassar.

Nwoko had another chance on the 80th minute. The young striker received the ball from Jean Borg and finished slightly wide.

Following this result, Valletta are now on level points with Balzan. The latter will play against Gżira United on Monday.

Tarxien Rainbows starting line-up: Andrea Cassar, Stefan Radovanovic, Ebiabowei Baker, Gabriel Aquilina, Andrew Agius, Luke Grech, Antonio Mitrev, Samba Tounkara, Wellington De Oliveira Viera (Godwin McKay- 70), Eduard Marian Calin (Matthew Spiteri – 60), Ricardo Silva Faria (James Brincat- 85)

Valletta starting line-up: Nicky Vella, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Santiago Malano, Matteo Piciollo, Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Joseph Zerafa (Jean Borg- 77), Ibrahim Raed Saleh, Rowen Muscat, Miguel Angel Alba (Umeh Uchenna Calistus- 70), Albert Prosa (Kyrian Nwoko- 54)

Referee: Eman Grech

Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Dusan Petrovic

Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani

Yellow Cards: Ryan Camilleri (Valletta), Ebiabowei Baker (Tarxien), Stefan Radovanovic (Tarxien), Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre (Valletta), Ebiabowei Baker (Tarxien), Antonio Mitrev (Tarxien)

Red Cards: Ebiabowei Baker (Tarxien)

BOV Player of the Match: Matteo Piciollo (Valletta)