SLIEMA WANDERERS 2
D. Cassar-6.5; K. Shaw-6.5, G. Aquilina-6.5 (90 O. Elouni), I, Gui-6.5, E. Agius-6.5 (60 D. Holla-6.5), J. Engerer-6 (83 J. Farrugia), Y. Uchida-6 (83 J. Morales), M. Beerman-6.5, J. Bliek-6, D. Vukovic-7, V. Berisha-5 (90 H. Warsama).
A. Guarnone-6; J. Borg-5; R. Camilleri-6; T. Caruana-6; J. Arthur-6 (82 M. Sansone); H. Dilaver-5; S. Dimech-6 (62 R. Muscat); I. Curjuric-6; E. Sala-6 (68 C. Prado); M. Fontanella-6; K. Tulimieri-6 (82 L. Campos).
Referee Alex Johnson.
Yellow cards Arthur, Agius, Aquilina, Borg, Berisha, Tulimieri, Bliek, Camilleri.
BOV Player of the match: Dujan Vukovic (Sliema Wanderers).
Sliema Wanderers bagged their first league win of the season when they came from behind to stun Valletta at the National Stadium.
The Blues looked destined for another defeat when Valletta drew first blood in the opening 45 minutes.
However, Sliema looked brighter in the second half and their immediate leveller propelled them towards the victory which came courtesy of a sublime free-kick by former Groningen midfielder Danny Holla.
Sliema have now moved off the bottom of the table with seven points whereas Valletta missed the chance to edge closer to pacesetters Hibernians and Birkirkara.
At the first time of asking, Valletta forged ahead when Eslit Sala lobbed the ball towards the far post with a towering header to put the Citizens ahead.
It was the second consecutive goal for the versatile player, who had found the net in the win over Sta Lucia prior to the November international window.
Sliema were looking to stage a reaction, inching their way up the field but Valletta’s defensive organisation was halting every opportunity they were looking to create.
Wingback Myles Beerman tested Valletta goalkeeper Alessandro Guarnone with a long-range thumping volley but the Italian custodian was alert.
Sliema forward Valmir Berisha tried his luck with a shot from the edge of the area but his effort sailed over.
Edmond Agius tried to threaten Valletta with a header that was comfortable for Guarnone to save before Triston Caruana had a shot on goal for Valletta but failed to beat Sliema goalkeeper David Cassar.
At the restart, Sliema immediately levelled terms with a superb volley from Dejan Vukovic on which Valletta’s goalkeeper Guarnone could do nothing.
Valletta’s reply came swiftly through a Kevin Tulimieri low drive that was deflected by Kurt Shaw before ricocheting onto the crossbar. From the rebound, Mario Fontanella’s shot was deflected wide.
Sliema’s goal sparked them into life as they were brimming with confidence as the half wore on. The Blues had another shot on target through Gui Inters, who beat his opponent before letting fly a low strike that was smothered by Guarnone.
The Italian goalkeeper came to Valletta’s rescue when he denied Shaw from close range, before Ivan Curjuric forced Sliema goalkeeper David Cassar into action with a couple of shots from the edge of the area.
Nonetheless, it was Sliema who scored the game’s next goal with substitute Danny Holla who fired a well-weighted freekick past Guarnone for his first goal of the season.