Santa Lucia grabbed a huge victory in their quest to secure Premier League survival as Robert Hehedosh via a deflection by Jean Marie Ngong, fired them to a shock win over Valletta.
Sta Lucia remain second from bottom despite the win, but they are now level on points with Żebbuġ Rangers.
Valletta were seeking their third win in four matches as they have now slipped eighth in the league standings.
Needing a victory to stay in touch with Żebbuġ and the Play-off berth, Santa Lucia instantly went on the offensive and although Valletta enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but they lacked flair and punch in the final third.
Santa Lucia had an early penalty shout turned down when Jean Marie Ulrich Ngong appeared to block a shot by Yevhenii Terzi with his arm. The French winger failed to regain his composure as Santa Lucia’s opening goal arrived inside the first six minutes in the most atrocious circumstances. Robert Bairam released Robert Hehedosh down the left. The striker hit the ball across the face of goal which was turned in by the sliding Ngong.
On 13 minutes, Enzo Ruiz used his head to deny Rodolfo Soares who was at the far post to connect to Francesco Farias’s corner.
Valletta unsuccessfully pushed forward in an attempt to draw level before their goalkeeper Alessandro Guarnone was lucky his mistake went unpunished after 26 minutes after a mix-up in the heart of the defence. Farias nipped in and shot behind the Italian goalkeeper but Eslit Sala was alert enough to get back and hook the ball off the line.
Sta Lucia continued to look dangerous and five minutes from half-time, Soares produced an acrobatic volley over the goalkeeper that hit the crossbar before bouncing off to safety.
Citizens coach Thane Micallef’s response was to introduce Brandon Paiber, Enmy Pena Beltre and Zak Barbara at the break.
The former Floriana player produced Valletta’s first shot on target when his 56th-minute powerful freekick was tipped over the bar by Matthew Calleja Cremona.
A crucial double-save intervention by Guarnone which first denied Terzi and then Dexter Xuereb served as an eye-opener for the Citizens.
But Valletta were held at arms’ length as Santa Lucia ended up the deserved winners.
SANTA LUCIA 1
Ngong 6 o.g
A. Guarnone-5.5, E. Ruiz-6, T. Caruana-5 (46 E. Pena Beltre-4), A. Zammit-5 (81J. Azzopardi), S. Dimech-4, F. Falcone-5, B. Kamdem-4, R. Muscat-6 (71 W. Jebor), JM. Ngong-4 (46 Z. Barbara-4) , E. Sala-5.5, K. Bevis-4 (46 B. Paiber-6.5).
M. Calleja Cremona-6.5, M. Vella-6 (84 D. Francarolli), N. Pulis-6.5, R. Bairam-7, L. Bi Bah-6.5, D. Xuereb-6, J. Pisani-6, F. Farias-6 (90 L. Mckay), R. Soares-6.5, Y. Terzi-7 (90 J, Zerafa), R. Hehedosh-6.5 (88 M. Alba).
Referee Alex Johnson.
Yellow cards Terzi, Kamdem, Calleja Cremona.
BOV player of the match Yevhenii Terzi (Sta Lucia).
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