BOV Premier League | Valletta 2 – Gżira United 1

Valletta won their 24th title as they secured a 2-1 win over Gżira United, while Balzan were defeated by Hibernians.

Ryan Camilleri lifting the trophy. Photo: Dominic Borg
Ryan Camilleri lifting the trophy. Photo: Dominic Borg

Valletta played their last fixture against Gżira United at the National Stadium. The Citizens were eager to secure a win at all costs. In addition, they were hoping that Balzan will fail in their match against Hibernians. On the other hand, the Maroons were in festive mode after clinching a spot in next season’s Europa League.

Danilo Doncic decided to make just one alteration to the team that drew level with Floriana. Jean Borg made way for Joseph Zerafa. Meanwhile, Darren Abdilla made five changes to the team that emerged victorious against Sliema. Antonio Orlando Macedo Neto, Kris Thackray, Nikolai Muscat, Juan Corbolan and Karl Pulo replaced Sacha Borg, Prince Mambouana, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Amadou Samb and Emmanuel Okoye.

Valletta made their intentions clear from the start and forged ahead after just seven minutes. Kyrian Nwoko went on a good run down the right flank before passing the ball towards Ibrahim Raed Saleh. The Omani player attempted to conclude, but his effort was blocked. The ball fell for Matteo Picciolo and the latter concluded inside the bottom corner.

Doncic’s side kept on insisting and created another chance on the 25th minute. Nwoko fired a shot from inside the penalty area that failed to hit the target.

The Maltese champions threatened Gżira again on the 33rd minute. Miguel Angel Alba’s shot from a free-kick forced a good save from Anthony Curmi.

The Maroons replied on the 39th minute. Kris Thackray attempted a long range shot that ended up over.

Valletta nearly doubled their advantage on the 49th minute. Picciolo tried to find space in order to conclude; however, he was marked well by Gżira’s defence. The ball went into the path of Alba whose low shot sailed centimetres wide.

Despite losing this opportunity, Valletta scored the second goal of the match on the 65th minute. Santiago Malano squared the ball for Saleh and the latter finished home from inside the penalty area.

Gżira had a rare opportunity on the 69th minute. Haruna Garba hit a low shot from the left side that neutralised by Henry Bonello.

Darren Abdilla’s side pulled one back on the 80th minute. Ryan Camilleri floored Juan Corbolan inside the penalty area and the referee ordered a penalty. From the eleven metres mark, Andrew Cohen made no mistake.

Two minutes from time, Denni Rocha Dos Santos served Picciolo inside the penalty area and the Italian saw his shot being saved by Curmi.

Valletta’s slight lead was never threatened in the remaining minutes as they held firm to clinch their 24th title.

Valletta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri (Albert Prosa- 85), Santiago Malano (Jean Borg- 74), Matteo Picciolo, Kyrian Nwoko, Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Joseph Zerafa, Ibrahin Raed Saleh, Rowen Muscat, Miguel Angel Alba (Denni Rocha Dos Santos- 74)

Gżira United starting line-up: Anthony Curmi, Roderick Briffa, Antonio Orlando Macedo Neto (Luca Brincat – 66), Kris Thackray (Destin Prince-Loic Mambouana), Clifford Gatt Badacchino, Zack Scerri, Nikolai Muscat, Haruna Zambuk Garba, Andrew Cohen, Juan Corbalan, Karl Pulo

Referee: Clayton Pisani

Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, William Debattista

Additional Assistant Referees:  Fyodor Zammit, Etienne Mangion

Fourth Official: Ishmael Barbara

Yellow Cards: Antonio Orlando Macedo Neto (Gżira), Rowen Muscat (Valletta), Zack Scerri (Gżira), Kris Thackray (Gżira), Denni Rocha Dos Santos (Valletta)

BOV Player of the Match: Matteo Picciolo (Valletta)