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Late goals earn Valletta a second consecutive win

Valletta's Jean Marie Ngong hits a pass against Żebbuġ rangers. Photo: Christine Borg

VALLETTA 3

Ngong 67, Bevis 75, Akpoveta 80

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 0

VALLETTA A. Guarnone-6, J. Borg-6, R. Camilleri-5 (46 E. Sala-6), S.Dimech-5.5 (59 A. Zammit-6), O. Akpoveta-6 (88 F. Cheversan), E. Pena Beltre-5, B. Kamdem-5, B. Paiber-6, U. Ngong-, J. Willy-5 (46 T. Caruana-6), K. Bevis-6.5 (83 L. Cremona).

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS J. Azzopardi-6, S. Bajada-5, L. Almeida-5, Y. Tonna-6, S. Jankovic-5 (90 P. Galea), C. Ngoy-5, R.Vella-5 (73 J Gesualdi), A. Soto-, G. Mifsud-, J. Sciberras-5 (73 K. Grixti), S. Miloskovic-5 (73 A. Mizzi).

Referee Emmanuel Grech.

Yellow Card Miloskovic, Vella.

BOV player of the match Kilian Bevis (Valletta).

Żebbuġ Rangers midfielder Almir de Jesus Soto Maldando’s error set Valletta on the way to a win that finally puts them out of trouble on Sunday at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

Soto Maldando tried to stop Triston Caruana’s corner rather than letting the ball run out of play, inadvertently setting up Oke Akpoveta who squared the ball for Jean Marie Ngong to hit the home.

Valletta started confidently enough but it was Żebbuġ who had the first clear opportunity on 28 minutes when Charles Lokoli Ngoy hit the woodwork with a header from Yanis Tonna’s free-kick.

Jamie Azzopardi soon outperformed Alessandro Guarnone, the Valletta goalkeeper, when he produced a wonderful save to deny Brandon Paiber from long-range.

Valletta looked the more likely to break through as Ulrich Ngong managed to guide his shot past the diving Azzopardi on the half-hour mark but the ball hit the foot of a post.

On 35 minutes, Azzopardi made a superb fingertip save to deny Paiber from an inswinging corner kick. Then, Soto Maldonado stood firm to block the rebound off the line.

Valletta struggled to make any headway and Thane Micallef made a double substitution at half-time with Ryan Camilleri and Joseph Willy replaced by Eslit Sala and Caruana.

After the interval, the pace picked up a little but neither side could create real panic on the opposing defence.

In fact, for all their possession, Valletta were unable to get behind the Rangers’ defence – until Soto Maldonado’s horrific mistake gifted them with 23 minutes remaining. 

Caruana’s corner would have crossed the line, only for the Colombian defender to reach it, drew Akpoveta to the ball as the latter set up Ngong to hit the home.

That goal signalled the opening of the floodgates and the end of the game.

Some enterprising play from Kilian Bevis won him space on the right, he had time to bring the ball down and find the target with a low drive.

And Valletta made sure of the three points when Akpoveta sent Azzopardi the wrong way from the penalty spot.

For Valletta, this was their second consecutive win and leaves them tenth in the standings. 

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