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Sliema relegated after damning loss to Valletta

Valletta's Michele Sansone pushes the ball away from Matteo Piciollo. Photo: Jonathan Bugeja

VALLETTA        3         

Fontanella 14, Tulimieri 74, Sala 82

SLIEMA W.       1         

Linton 77

VALLETTA A. Guarnone-6, J. Borg-6.5, T. Caruana-6.5, M. Sansone-6, E. Pena Beltre-6 (87 C. Gauci), P. Oluwatobi-6.5 (86 A. Zammit), I. Curjuric-7 (87 S. Dimech), R. Muscat-6, E. Sala-6, C. Prado-6 (57 K. Tulimieri), M. Fontanella-6.5 (86 H. Dilaver).

SLIEMA R. Al Tumi-6.5, J. Morales-5.5, J. Mintoff-5.5 (84 M. Beerman),  G. Inters-6 (58 G. Aquilina), E. Agius-6, J. Engerer-5.5 (58 M. Davis), M. Piciollo-6 (84 O. Elouni), O. Linton-6, J. Goncalves-5.5, D. Vukovic-6, V. Berisha-6 (85 J. Farrugia).

Referee Andrea Sciriha

Yellow Cards Berisha, Pena Beltre

BOV Player of the Match Ivan Curjuric (Valletta FC).

Valletta condemned Sliema Wanderers to playing in the Challenge League next season after defeating them 3-1.

This defeat leaves the Blues anchored at the bottom of the table with just fifteen points from 24 matches. In fact, after last year’s troubled campaign, this season, the writing was on the wall and despite a number of transfers in the January transfer window and the sacking of coach Andrea Pisanu, the Wanderers failed to change their fortunes and will be playing once again in the second category of local football for the second time in their history.

Valletta, on the other hand, all but sealed their Premier League status with a second win in as many matches from the Play-Out final round. They were clearly a better side throughout the 90 minutes although, by the end of the first half, they were leading by just one goal.

For the Citizens, Jean Borg was back after serving a one-match ban while for Sliema, coach Noel Turner opted for three changes, naming John Mintoff, Dejan Vukovic, and Gui Inters in the starting line-up.

Valletta went in search of an early goal and on 13 minutes, Rowen Muscat’s effort from outside the area was turned into a corner by Rashed Al Tumi.

One minute later, the Citizens took the lead as Mario Fontanella pounced on a through pass following a good move on the left flank and rounded the goalkeeper, hitting home with an angled shot.

Fontanella could have added another 28 minutes in when served by Caio Prado but his attempt ended high. Then one minute from the end of the first half, Al Tumi blocked a Promise Oluwatobi effort from point-blank range.

Valletta continued to hold the initiative during the second half and on the hour, Al Tumi blocked a cross by Rowen Muscat from the right, Ivan Curjuric hit low but the ball was deflected by a defender and Mario Fontanella missed a good opportunity, hitting wide from a central position inside the area.

The Citizens doubled the score on 72 minutes. Promise concluded a good run on the right with a cross and substitute Kevin Tulimieri hit low past the Sliema custodian.

Three minutes later, Sliema reduced the gap. Edmond Agius delivered a freekick from the left with the ball reaching Oscar Linton Bethancourt who headed home from close range.

However, Valletta made it 3-1 on 82 minutes. Following a corner by Curjuric from the left, Oscar Linton headed the ball down and Eslit Sala placed the ball at the back of the net from close.

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