Malta Football Association
Valletta pegged back by battling Floriana in tight derby
Apr 3, 2017
Posted in:
BOV Premier League

Valletta face an uphill struggle to retain the league title after being pegged back by rivals Floriana in a tight derby that sprung to life in the final 20 minutes on Super Sunday.

The Citizens were the livelier side in the second half but paid for their failure to keep things tight at the back after substitute Michael Mifsud had given them the lead eight minutes from time.


To their credit, Floriana never gave up and Ryan Camenzuli snatched a late equaliser after Valletta had struggled to deal with a long ball.


“We wanted the three points, the win,” Mifsud said afterwards.


“Floriana are not an easy team to play against but we were unlucky. It’s not over yet and we will keep going.”


Valletta were under pressure to take the three points after Hibernians’ 3-1 victory over Balzan.


Striker Ignacio Varela had a golden opportunity to fire Floriana team ahead but dragged his shot wide after running on to a long pass from Camenzuli.


At the other end, Romeu Romau had a great chance to put Valletta in front in the 19th minute but headed wide from an ideal position.


Goalkeeper Justin Haber saved Floriana with two fine interventions. On 27 minutes, Haber was alert to keep out on a dangerous cross-shot by Leandro Aguirre and, eight minutes later, he stopped a powerful shot by Santiago Malano after a quick counter-attack involving Aguirre and Steve Borg and Malano.


In the second half, Valletta midfielder Valdo Alhinho had a fine solo effort with his final shot in the 72nd minute ending just high.


Valletta increased their pressure. Umeh Calistus hit high following a cross by Steve Borg and Luke Montebello’s effort with 13 minutes left was also off target.


The Whites thought they had won the match when Mifsud, who had replaced Romao, broke the deadlock, beating Haber with a close-range shot after sweeping past two Floriana defenders.


Calistus could have sealed the issue two minutes later when he broke clear but Floriana defender Enrico Pepe dashed back to block the Nigerian's shot.


More drama ensued as Floriana equalised three minutes from time.


A vertical ball had the Valletta defence in a spot of bother as Mario Fontanella’s pressure unnerved the defenders with the ball falling to the unmarked Camenzuli who had no difficulty beating goalkeeper Barktus with a low shot.


Amid Floriana's goal celebrations, Haber was sent off after earning a second booking after being deemed to have made a provocative gesture to the City fans.


Seven additional minutes were given with Valletta midfielder Claudio Pani going close but his piledriver was turned away for a corner by substitute goalkeeper Matthew Grech.

Alhinho, the Valletta midfielder, was voted BOV player of the match.

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