Neighbouring rivals Valletta and Floriana were off to a positive start in the 2023-24 Premier League campaign when they secured victories over Sirens and Santa Lucia respectively while Mosta could only manage a goalless draw against Gudja United.
Valletta, again under the charge of Thane Micallef, were desperate to open their campaign with a win but had to fend off the spirited challenge of Sirens.
In fact, in the first half, the St Paul’s Bay side created some good opportunities with Valletta goalkeeper Jake Galea producing a good save to deny Nicholas Pulis.
However, it was Valletta who took the lead when in a quick break Shaun Dimech set up Federico Falcone who stabbed the ball home.
After the break, Sirens tried to pull themselves back into the match but it was Valletta who sealed the points.
Wingback Victor Prestes Filho saw his shot deflected by Sirens defender Muktar Moro into his own net.
From then on, Valletta controlled proceedings and could have further extended their lead through Luiz and Falcone but Cassar was alert to block.
Floriana fended off the challenge of Santa Lucia as they eased to a 4-0 win.
The match could have taken a different facet when after seven minutes Luca Sena Silva headed the ball past Floriana goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov but the ‘goal’ was annulled for offside.
It was Floriana who took the lead on 26 minutes when Ulises Arias was floored inside the area and the Greens midfielder made no mistake from the resultant penalty.
Floriana struck again three minutes later when Jan Busuttil did well inside the area to fire the ball past goalkeeper Francisco Cello.
Santa Lucia’s hopes were further jolted on 42 minutes when midfielder Steve Pisani was shown his second yellow card for a foul on Arias.
With a player more on the pitch, Floriana strolled through the second half with Kemar Reid making it 3-0 when turning home Matheus’s pass.
Floriana sealed the points on 88 minutes when Kyrian Nwoko headed home.
In the other match, played on Sunday, Mosta and Gudja United fired blanks in a goalless draw.
The match was evenly balanced with Gudja twice going close in the first half through Neil Tabone and Mathias Muchardi.
Mosta’s response saw a Zachary Brincat shot saved by Yaren Sozer, in the Gudja goal.
After the break, there was little separating either side with Gabriel Mensah creating Gudja’s best chance but his shot was deflected to a corner while at the other end, Aliyu Isah came close for Mosta but his effort finished over.
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