U Bet FA Trophy Valletta 5 Sliema W. 2 Published on: 21-01-2012

Jesmond Zerafa's men came out on top in a topsy-turvy match against Sliema Wanderers after sensationally coming back from two goals down.

Barbosa sent Roderick Bajada crashing to end Sliema's first serious venture towards the City penalty area after three minutes. And Mitev unleashed a swerving free-kick that squeezed between Andrew Higg and his near post.

Valletta's response offered a measure of optimism when Barbosa's free-kick was deflected to a corner by Rumen Galabov after six minutes.

But the Brazilian was having a torrid time trying to tame Bajada, repeatedly restoring to fouls and conceded another free-kick in perfect Mitev territory in the 16th minute and the Bulgarian smashed home another stunning 25-metre free-kick. This time, he exacted clinical retribution with a delightful left-foot that bent viciously away from Hogg's despairing dive.

Zerafa's thoughts on his team's performance were reflected in a bold decision to take a desperate measure and make a double substitution after just 30 minutes. Edmond Agius and Ousseni Zongo came on for Barbosa and Dyson Falzon. Falzon was not happy to be substituted and threw his white short to the floor in disgust and headed straight to the dressing room.

Zerafa's men gathered themselves during the break to mount a stirring recovery. The City were back in the match within four minutes of the restart as Zongo sent in a fine in swing cross from the right that flew tantalinsingly across the face of goal but found no takers. However the Sliema rearguard failed to clear the danger and Edmond Agius followed up the ball to score from long-range to offer hope of an unlikely comeback.

The momentum was with City and their recovery was complete on the hour mark when Denni broke away down the left in a sweeping attack and crossed for Zongo to lift his shot over Bonello.

The massed ranks of Valletta supporters, who sat in desolation during the interval, were now in ecstasy as they senses a victory that seemed impossible just 15 minutes earlier.

The stage was set for a memorable comeback and Valletta went ahead in the 66th minute. Doncic's side were living on the edge and tumbled over the precipice in the cruellest fashion possible when Mifsud was felled into the box by Steve Bezzina. As the Sliema defender was given the marching order, the nippy striker picked himself up to smash the spot kick high into the roof of the net.

After 76 minutes, Mifsud hit the post twice when his shot ping-ponged from post to the other before the ball bounced off to safety.

Two minutes later, Zongo heaped more misery on Sliema when the winger sent his show arrowing into the top corner to spark more wild scenes of celebration.

As the inevitability of their fate dawned on them, Sliema became ragged but Effiong showed some of the old expertise in front of goal when he headed home Mifsud's cross with ease to wrap up Valletta's victory, two minutes from time.

Source: timesofmalta.com

VALLETTA  - A. Hogg, S. Borg, I. Azzopardi, G. Agius, R. Briffa, D. Dos Santos, M. Mifsud, W. Barbosa (E. Agius), A. Effiong, D. Falzon (O. Zongo), J. Caruana.

SLIEMA W. -  H. Bonello, S. Bezzina, D. Mitev, R. Fenech, R. Bajada, R. Grech (J.P. Mifsud Triganza), M. Scerri, C. Gatt Baldacchino, R. Galabov, E. Lattes, B. Muscat (A. Muscat)

U*Bet FA Trophy
Date: 21-01-12     Time: 16:00    Venue: National Stadium

Scorers: 3', 16' D. Mitev(S), 50' E. Agius, 60' O. Zongo, 68' M. Mifsud (P), 79 O'. Zongo, 88' A. Effiong

Yellow Cards:  Ryan Grech (S)

Referee: Kevin Azzopardi