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Rabat frustrate Valletta to earn point

Photo: Jason Borg

Photo: Jason Borg

Valletta 1 Rabat Ajax 1

Rabat frustrated leaders Valletta to earn a merited point.  No doubt, the point gained is a terrific boost for Rabat and their chances of putting up a strong fight to avoid the drop but after nine matches, the victory still eludes the Magpies.

Surprisingly, the Ajax took the field without the hint of inferiority complex and inside the first seven minutes, Manuel Fuster passed to Clifford Gauci who drove against the side-netting as they sought to make an early statement of intent.

It did not take Valletta long to create their first opportunity. Fenech drifted into the box from the right but his shot was slightly off target.

The Lilywhites started to monopolise possession without however stretching the Magpies earguard beyond routine work and they fell into a lull- largely because Vella’s troops were reading their attacking tactics.

After 35 minutes, Valletta had a penalty shout turned down when Dylan Falzon tackled Mifsud to end his venture in the Rabat box.

On the change of ends, Valletta finally demostrated the imbalace of talent that exists between the two sides pioneered by the Sciriha brothers. And it proved to be a stroke of genius by Gabriel after 53 minutes to finally break Rabat’s resilience. The Brazilian aided and abetted by Bajada, showed great skill to twist and turn two defenders inside out before curling a precise flick into the far corner past Mintoff.

But the Valletta’s celebrations lasted no time at all though as Rabat dug deep and levelled  five minutes later when Ivan Carapic produced a delightful headed flick to convert Heinar Backhaus’s corner.

In the 69th minute, William Barbosa’s effort was only blocked into the path of Gabriel but the Rabat goalkeeper blocked the follow-up.

At death, Mifsud cracked a rising shot that dipped just over the bar, but it came too late to change the result.

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