MARSAXLOKK M. Drobnjak-6; U. Edafe-7, Jeferson-6 (68 A. Effiong), P. Xuereb-6, E. Vella, A. Ferraris-6, L. Aguirre-6, S. Moracci-6, Wellington-7 (86 R. Tonna), D. Vukovic-6 (62 D. Agius), T. Fonseca-6.5,
VALLETTA A. Guarnone-6; J. Borg-6, S. Dimech-6.5 (88 L. Cremona), O. Akpoveta-5 (46 A. Zammit-7), C. Gauci-6, E. Pena Beltre-5, B. Kamdem (E. Ruiz 14-6); B. Paiber-6, J. Ngong-5 (65 F. Cheveresan), E. Sala-6, K. Bevis-5.
Referee Fyodor Zammit.
Yellow cards Sala, Moracci, Vukovic, Pena Beltre, Drobnjak.
Red card Eslit Sala (Valletta) 62, Emerson Vella (Marsaxlokk) 90.
BOV Player of the Match Wellington (Marsaxlokk).
Andrea Zammit converted a stoppage-time penalty for Valletta to hand the Lilywhites three crucial points after beating Marsaxlokk 2-1.
A hard-fought win for Valletta who after cancelling Tiago Fonseca’s opener early in the second half through Shaun Dimech, they had to play with a man down after Eslit Sala’s sending off just past the hour mark.
Three points see Valletta move to 18 points, in eighth position after 13 games played.
Marsaxlokk, on their part, will rue their missed chances, especially in the latter stages of the game when they had a numerical advantage.
Pablo Doffo’s side remains just outside the red zone with 14 points.
Marsaxlokk could not have wished for a better start to the game when they forged ahead after seven minutes.
Leandro Aguirre beat his markers on the spot before teeing up Tiago Fonseca who converted into a goal from point-blank range.
Valletta’s reply came through midfielder Eslit Sala but his long-range shot went wide from Marsaxlokk’s goal.
Yet, it was Valletta’s only chance throughout the first 45 minutes as Marsaxlokk’s tactical organisation managed to keep Thane Micallef’s side at bay.
Pablo Doffo-led Marsaxlokk could have doubled their lead through Wellington but his header inside the penalty box was not enough to beat Alessandro Guarnone.
At the restart, Valletta made one change as Andrea Zammit replaced forward Oke Akpoveta with coach Micallef switching to a 4-2-3-1 shape from the initial 3-5-2.
Valletta managed to level terms on minute 54 when Shaun Dimech made in ways into the penalty area before slotting past Marko Drobnjak.
However, Valletta’s chances of turning the game in their favour were dealt a heavy blow when Eslit Sala was given the marching orders following a second yellow.
From the resultant free-kick, just from the edge of the area, Santiago Ferraris sailed his effort over Guarnone’s bar.
Twenty minutes from, Aguirre tried his luck with a volley but could find the target as both teams remained level at 1-1.
Former Malta international Alfred Effiong, who came on from the bench, almost put Marsaxlokk ahead when he profited from indecision in Valletta’s backline just to see his low drive go inches wide.
In the closing stages of the game, Marsaxlokk were inching up their way on the field and came close to beating Guarnone when Ferraris hit a fierce strike just missing the target by a few inches.
Moments later, Ryan Tonna tried his luck but to no avail when he missed the target from outside the penalty area.
However, it was Valletta who clinched the winner when Andrea Zammit won a penalty in stoppage time after being fouled by Emerson Vella following a positive transition by the Lilywhites.
Vella was given the marching orders while Zammit slotted cooly from the spot to hand Valletta a dramatic win.
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