Fontanella 2, 82, 90
VALLETTA: A. Guarnone-6.5, T. Caruana-5.5, J. Arthur-5.5, H. Dilaver-6, S. Dimech-6 (60 J. Micallef), C. Gauci-5.5 (69 C. Gauci), R. Muscat-6, E. Sala-5.5, C. Prado (15 L. Campos-5.5), M. Fontanella-7, K. Tulimieri-6 (60 I. Curjuric).
SIRENS: S. Mintoff-5.5, K. Reid-5.5 (86 F. Avoce), F. Brandan-6 (76 B. Gavrila), D. Albanese-6.5, A. Borg-6, J. Walker-5.5, C. Zammit Lonardelli-5.5 (69 C. Borg), A. Cini-6 (86 A. Effiong), C. Riascos-5.5, D. Jackson-5.5, V. Vieira-6.
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: A. Borg, D. Albanese
BOV Player of the Match: Mario Fontanella
Valletta returned to winning ways yesterday as a Mario Fontanella hat-trick handed them a 3-1 win over Sirens.
An early goal paved the way for the Citizens but Sirens gave a good account of themselves and had their fair share of scoring opportunities, including a penalty which was neutralised by goalkeeper Alessandro Guarnone.
Valletta coach Tose Mendes made wholesale changes following the defeat to Gudja. With Ryan Camilleri and Joseph Zerafa ruled out through suspension, Rowen Muscat, who was making his first start this season was handed the captain’s armband. Bosnian forward Haris Dilaver made his debut while Christian Gauci, Shaun Dimech and Kevin Tulimieri were also handed a start.
Sirens, on the other hand, had four changes with goalkeeper Sean Mintoff, Alex Cini, Carlo Zammit Lonardelli and Degran Jackson all awarded a place in the starting line-up.
The Citizens had a perfect start, taking the lead after just two minutes. Kevin Tulimieri pounced on a long through pass on the right and advanced into the area before serving Fontanella who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Mintoff.
Sirens replied with a cross by Cini from the right with Diego Albanese heading the ball into the direction of Adrian Borg but goalkeeper Guarnone blocked his attempt on 7 minutes.
The St. Paul’s Bay side threatened once again on 21 minutes with an Albanese header ending wide off a Fernando Brandan freekick.
In the second half, Winston Muscat’s side went in search of the equaliser and on 52 minutes, Vieira had a shot from the edge of the area deflected into a corner and the resulting corner by Brandan was parried by Guarnone. An angled shot by Vieira from the left, following a swift counter-attack, was neutralised by the Valletta goalkeeper.
Sirens were awarded a penalty on 67 minutes when Brandan was brought down inside the area by Guarnone but Kemar Reid’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by the Valletta custodian.
Eight minutes from time, Valletta doubled the score when Lucas Campos served Dilaver from the left and the latter’s shot was blocked with Fontanella tapping the ball home off the rebound.
Sirens pulled one back on 87 minutes when off a long-distance freekick by Borg, Riascos addressed the ball in the direction of substitute Francis William Avoce, who headed home from close range.
However, two minutes in added time, Dilaver received a pass inside the area and tried to round a defender but Fontanella gained possession and controlled before hitting low past Mintoff.