FA Trophy final | Valletta clinches the double with 2-1 win over Birkirkara

Valletta couldn’t hope for a better season as they secured a 2-1 win over Birkirkara to win their fourteenth FA Trophy.

Valletta's players celebrating their triumph. Photo: Christine Borg
Valletta's players celebrating their triumph. Photo: Christine Borg

Both Birkirkara and Valletta were eager to lift the FA Trophy in order to finish off their campaign in the best possible way. After defeating Sliema Wanderers in a semi-final match that was decided by a penalty shoot-out, Birkirkara confirmed their place in Europe. However, knowing that the pressure was on Valletta, the stripes were looking for a great performance in order to win the second most prestigious cup in Maltese football.

On the other hand, Valletta who were still in festive mode following their Premier League triumph had already made it clear that they wanted to secure the FA Trophy as well. The Maltese champions made it to the final after winning against Balzan in the semi-final.

This match also brought an excellent attendance towards the National Stadium. In fact, a great atmosphere was created by both sets of supporters.

Birkirkara’s coach, Paul Zammit, made two changes in his starting line-up. Nikola Vukanac and Carlos Alberto Da Silva Goncalves Junior replaced Lucas Maia and Ognjen Rolovic.

Danilo Doncic of Valletta made one forced change in his side. Juan Gill Cruz took Steve Borg’s place as the latter was suspended following his sending off against Balzan.

Valletta were the better side during the first half and managed to threaten Birkirkara on a number of occasions.

The citizens created the first chance of the match on the 19th minute. Matteo Piciollo made space for himself and fired a powerful shot that ended up marginally off target.

Two minutes later, Miguel Alba dispossessed Ryan Scicluna and went through on tight flank before hitting a shot that was blocked by Kristijan Naumovski.

Valletta kept on insisting and went close again on the 28th minute. Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre delivered an excellent pass towards Santiago Malano whose shot was saved by Naumovski.

Naumovski denied Valletta again on the 34th minute. Piciollo served Kyrian Nwoko and the latter saw his shot being pushed away by Birkirkara’s custodian.

Valletta’s efforts paid off on the 41st minute. Alba delivered a cross from a corner towards Rowen Muscat. The Maltese midfielder headed the ball towards Nwoko who directed his effort past Naumovski.

Birkirkara hit back immediately as Waldemar Acosta was played through on goal, but failed to hit the target from in front of Henry Bonello.

The post denied Valletta from doubling their advantage inside the additional time given by the referee prior to half-time. Joseph Zerafa hit a low shot from distance that stamped off the woodwork.

Valletta started the second half where they left off the first and remained on the offensive.

Danilo Doncic's side had another attempt on goal on the 61st minute. Piciollo’s shot from inside the penalty area went across the frame of goal and ended up wide.

Zammit’s side had a rare chance two minutes later. Waldemar Acosta’s shot was parried by Bonello.

The stripes created another opportunity on the 75th minute. Cain Attard sent a cross towards Ognjen Rolovic whose header sailed off target.

Valletta scored their second goal three minutes later. Santiago Malano went on a great run that saw him going past Vukanac before placing the ball past Naumovski.

Following this goal, Birkirkara’s supporters completely lost it and started to throw the seats from their stand. Some of them also started to make their way out of the National Stadium.

On the 83rd minute, Pena Beltre went through inside the penalty area, but found Naumovski in his way.

Birkirkara pulled one back on the 87th minute. Rolovic’s shot from a free-kick took a deflection off the wall and ended up inside the net.

Rolovic went close to equalise for his side inside the additional time. The Montenegrin player saw his shot from another free-kick going slightly high.

A chaos took place after the final whistle as a door was left open by the stewards and the majority of Valletta’s supporters went onto the pitch and celebrated in front of Birkirkara’s stand. This initiated Birkirkara’s fans to retaliate as they threw stuff towards the supporters. All these factors contributed towards a number of fights between the supporters.

Birkirkara starting line-up: Kristijan Naumovski, Edward Herrera, Fernando Barbosa, Mislav Andelkovic, Jake Grech (Terrance Agius – 60), Kurt Zammit, Nikola Vukanac, Carlos Alberto Da Silva Goncalves Junior (Ognjen Rolovic – 60), Waldemar Acosta, Ryan Scicluna, Cain Attard (Ayrton Attard- 90)

Valletta starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Gill Cruz, Santiago Malano, Matteo Piciollo, Kyrian Nwoko (Jean Borg- 81), Enmy Manuel Pena Beltre, Joseph Zerafa, Ibrahim Raed Saleh, Rowen Muscat (Nicholas Pulis- 85), Miguel Alba (Denni Rocha Dos Santos – 68)

Referee: Alan Mario Sant

Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Thomas Debono

Additional Assistant Referees: Malcolm Spiteri, Matthew Degabriele

Fourth Official: William Debattista