Saturday 22.9.18 reported by: Victor Ciangura photo – http://www.stephengatt.com
Valletta deserved the verdict as they dominated proceedings in both periods and kept the Luqa rearguard defending grimly. Besides scoring four goals they were denied by the woodwork on three occasions. Following this win, Valletta lead the Group on maximum points from two games. The first action was created by Luqa as Miguel Vella released Steve Baldacchino on the edge of the area but he drove over the bar. Valletta replied when Sheldon Mackay dribbled past an opponent in the area and the ball was cleared on the line from his shot with Luqa keeper Damien Bugeja beaten, and the pressure resumed as they mounted another action as Matthias Tabone released Neville Borg in the area and Bugeja saved his effort in two attempts. In Valletta’s next action in the 10th minute they forged ahead when Kurt Buhagiar served Antheos Spiteri in the area and he scored with a low drive, and in a Luqa action Nathan Frendo was fouled in midfield and the ball was headed away following the free kick by Andrew Vella. The pressure from Valletta resumed. Tabone square-passed the ball in the area to Borg and the ball hit the base of the upright from his shot with Bugeja beaten. Lyon Camilleri served Borg with a high through ball in the area and Bugeja managed to neutralize the ball and Tabone served Buhagiar on the left flank and a defender foiled him from progressing with a perfect timely tackle. Valletta doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Spiteri was fouled outside the area and the same player scored directly from the free kick with a perfect rising shot in the top right-hand corner of the net past a helpless Bugeja. In another Valletta action Tabone served Zachary Chetcuti with a long throw-in from the left flank and Bugeja saved his distant shot and in the last action before the break Luqa player Frendo was fouled outside the area and Valletta keeper Anson Saliba saved the rising shot by Andrew Vella. Soon after the restart, Valletta went straight on the offensive. Jeremy Azzopardi, after dribbling past an opponent on the right flank served Spiteri with a cross in the area and after his hard drive the ball thumped the bar with Bugeja beaten and minutes later Bugeja saved a close-range shot by Spiteri after a right flank cross by Matthias Mercieca. Azzopardi then dribbled past two defenders inside the area who then square-passed the ball to substitute Matthew Pulis who missed the upright by inches and Azzopardi was fouled on the right flank and Bugeja saved the free kick by Spiteri. In a rare Luqa action they won a corner kick on the right flank but from his low cross, Sheldon Mckay only managed to hit the side-netting. Two more actions were then created by Valletta. Spiteri was fouled outside the area and from the same player’s free-kick the ball was blocked by the defensive barrier and Camilleri dribbled past an opponent just outside the area and from his high and hard drive the ball rattled the crossbar with Bugeja completely beaten. The score became 3-0 in the 71st minute when Sheldon Mackay released Borg in the area who netted with a hard low drive. Valletta kept pressing for more goals. After a flag kick by Pulis, Bugeja neutralizes the ball from his high cross and from another flag kick by the same player Bugeja saved a close-range header by substitute Kieran Mallia. Three minutes before the end of normal time Valletta scored their fourth and final goal when Borg entered the area after dribbling past an opponent and after his high drive Luqa player Olin Abdilla had the misfortune to deflect the ball into his own net in an attempt the clear the ball away.
Luqa: D.Bugeja, R.Testa, T.A.Debono, J.L.Polidano, O.Abdilla, S.Baldacchino, S.Mckay,A.Vella, (Capt) M.Vella, N.Frendo, M.Schembri Valletta: A.Saliba, S.Mackay, K.Buhagiar, (Capt) A.Spiteri, Z.M.Chetcuti, M.Tabone, L.Camilleri, N.borg, J.Azzopardi, M.Mercieca, K.P.Fenech Player of the match: (Sheldon Mackay (Valletta) Referee: Hristos Palikanov