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San Lawrenz Primary School celebrates Universal Children’s Day
The Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana, was invited to join the students of San Lawrenz Primary School to...
Christmas in Gozo with Schola Cantorum Jubilate & Carols by Candlelight
Christmas is fast approaching with many events taking place throughout the festive season across Gozo. One such event...
Two winners share first prize in Gozo Live play writing competition
Saturday evening’s performance evening of plays entered into this year’s Gozo Live Play Writing Competition, was well attended...
Valletta and Hamrun play goalless stalemate as Floriana win ugly thanks to own goal

HAMRUN SPARTANS      0

VALLETTA                      0

Hamrun: J. Galea (S. Sultana), G. De Castro, D. Zerafa, W. Bokila, T. Caruana, C. Zaccardo, T. Souza, T. Espindola, F. Clavero (L. Micallef), D. Camilleri, A. Machado (J. Galea)

Valletta: H. Bonello, S. Borg, R. Camilleri, J. Cruz, S. Malano, M. Picciollo (M. Mifsud), K. Nwoko, J. Borg, U. Uchenna, R. Saleh, D. Dos Santos (R. Muscat)

Referee: A.M. Sant

Asst.refs: R. Vella, P. Apap

4th official: D. Agius

Yellow cards: S. Borg, G. De Castro, T. Souza, A. Machado, C. Zaccardo

Player of the match: K. Nwoko

TMI top 3: 1. T. Caruana  2. D. Zerafa  3. D. Dos Santos

Attendance: 2,521

There was nothing to celebrate about this 0-0 draw between old rivals Valletta and Hamrun Spartans although the latter may see more good in a point than their opponents.

Perhaps Valletta are not yet as clinical as they would like to be, and need to be more ruthless, having failed to score in two consecutive matches now.

In the first half you could tell Hamrun were in for a beating but Valletta failed to turn their supremacy into goals and after dropping their rhythm in the second they had to settle for a draw that leaves them on equal points with Gzira United and Balzan.

Valletta's next opponents are Floriana.

The Spartans did not set out merely to absorb pressure and avoid a of being run ragged. They were just made to look that way in  the first half as Valletta controlled possession and tried to weaken a well-organised defence with the quality of their distribution and movement.

The Citizens often attack on the flanks but Denni prospered in space in central areas. He kept finding space and running past defenders at will.

Valletta lost much of their early lustre after the restart and Hamrun held their nerves, showed more resilience at the back and in midfield to earn a precious point.

Valletta, unbeaten in their previous five matches, were almost an unchanged side, with the only exception that Umeh Uchenna filled in for the suspended Joseph Zerafa.

Hamrun were boosted by the return from injury of Artur Faria Machado and gave a debut start to their new Dutch striker Wim Bokila.

Valletta were the more threatening team throughout the first 45 minutes, with Denni, Nwoko and Piciollo irrepressible.

They pressed Hamrun urgently and Nwoko had an early sighter but his close range shot was blocked by Souza.

Piciollo hit Uchenna's cross first time but keeper Galea held out his effort before he was forced to leave the pitch, after lengthy treatment, and be replaced by Steve Sultana in goal.

The latter was called to effect his first save short of the break, rushing out of his line to block Nwoko.

Despite all Valletta's flurry, it remained goalless at halftime.

Valletta remained dominant but were creating fewer clear openings in the second half.

Sensing that their momentum was also dipping, coach Popovic replaced Piciollo with Michael Mifsud on the hour and later withdrew Denni and introduced Rowen Muscat.

Hamrun changed too, putting in Lydon Micallef for Clavero, but the game did not change significantly; if anything, it regressed.

Mifsud tried to get Valletta going but he was largely alone again. There was little clarity, little imagination, little pace to the play, and not much sign of a striker - either to take chances or make them. There was little threat in the movement of the men playing up front.

Valletta seemed to lack acceleration, an extra gear and imagination, too.

Hamrun, instead grew in composure as they were having more time on the ball and could control the proceedings with far more ease to limit any danger.

On 77 minutes, from a Muscat corner, Malano headed staright on the Hamrun keeper.

That would be the only shot on target of the second half. Valletta knew that a draw was not so benefitting for them and tried to take a step forward. Three more minutes were added, hearts in mouths, but there was to be no drama as the stalemate prevailed.


FLORIANA                               1

SLIEMA WANDERERS           0

Floriana: I. Akpan, J. Baldacchino (D. Grima), E. Pepe, E. Ruiz, S. Pisani, M. Vella (C. Borg), J. Cabral, A. Cini, A. Oyama, M. Fontanella, E. Marcelina

Sliema W: G. Zammit, G. Adamovic, S. Bianciardi, M. Muchardi, J. De Assis, G. Aquilina (N. Milinceanu), E. Agius, F. Queros (R. Spiteri), J. Mintoff, M. Sansone, R. Correa

Referee: M. Apap

Asst.refs: J. Spiteri, D. Petrovic

4th official: S. Pace

Scorers: G. Adamovic 20 og,

Yellow cards: S. Bianchardi, M. Muchardi, S. Pisani, J. De Assis, M. Vella

Player of the match: M. Vella (Floriana)

TMI top 3: 1. M. Vella  2. S. Bianchardi  3. S. Pisani

Floriana won this clash of the 'Old Firm' thanks to a first half own goal by Sliema's defender Goran Adamovic to skip back into the top four as they stay unbeaten in the BoV Premier League.

Tension and nervousness always threatened to spoil this game as a spectacle and so it proved.

Floriana looked good for long spells during the first half and might have deserved their lead as they looked the neatier, more confident side, but showed enough defensive resilience to thwart their opponents.

Sliema have days like this at times, when they appear unable to rouse themselves.

Muchardi was classy enough at their heart, collecting and distributing tidily, but there was a distinct lack of flair to a team fielding three defensively-minded midfielders at its core.

They were also stretched defensively, which will have troubled the coach almost as much.

Both teams went into this match in some vein of good form, locked together on the same points tally before kick-off.

Floriana were still unbetaen after 10 outings while Sliema had won all their previous four matches without conceding.

Sliema had Frank Temile suspended but coach John Buttigieg made other changes as he gave starts to Goran Adamovic, Gabriel Aquilina and Michele Sansone.

Floriana, still with coach Giovanni Tedesco banned from the sidelines, replaced Clyde Borg with James Baldacchino and Dylan Grima with Emerson Marcelina in their starting line-up.

The opening exchanges were rather sluggish. But Floriana gradually started to find their rhythm, with Pisani, Vella and Cabral very much in the thick of the action. And after a Cabral cross was headed over the bar by Fontanella, the Greens forged ahead after 20 minutes, albeit in a bizarre manner. Cabral was challenged by Adamovic inside the Sliema area and as the defender tried to block him, the ball took a deflection off his body and floated over the stranded keeper Zammit.

Floriana kept on attacking and as Vella ran inside the Sliema area with alarming ease, keeper Zammit repelled his hard drive.

The Wanderers tried to respond but their attack lacked enough cutting edge to breach Floriana's rearguard. Frustration was evident as De Assis felt aggrieved with lack of enough protection by the referee following a couple of crude tackles on the Sliema forward, who was himself booked for simulation in the first half.

Coach Buttigieg tried to shore things up after the interval by introducing their new Moldovan striker Nicolae Milinceanu for Aquilina in the second half. His debut proved ineffective.

What ensued was a tedious, ill-tempered affair, lacking in quality, with both sides throwing away all tactics.

Sliema moved possession around nicely in Floriana's half but could not find the penetration, even if the Wanderers also introduced Ryan Spiteri for Queroz for the last 15 minutes.

De Assis' cross from the right, after going past Ruiz, contained menace but nobody could reach for it. After another neat Sliema move, Sansone had his effort blocked into a corner.

Floriana elected to sit back and defend their slender lead. They offered next to nothing as an attacking threat. The Greens had also run dry of any inspiration but the Wanderers never looked capable of mounting a comeback.

Unfortunately, as the match neared its end, both sides found themselves swamped into ineffectiveness.

Juventus lose 3-2 at Sampdoria ahead of Barcelona clash

Juventus fell to a surprise 3-2 defeat at Sampdoria, which maintained its perfect home record in Serie A on Sunday.

Duvan Zapata, Lucas Torreira and Gian Marco Ferrari put Sampdoria 3-0 up in the second half before Juventus threatened an astonishing stoppage-time comeback with a penalty from Gonzalo Higuain and a strike from Paulo Dybala.

It will be a blow to Juve's confidence ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match against Barcelona.

Juventus is four points behind leader Napoli, which beat AC Milan 2-1 on Saturday. The Bianconeri could be overtaken by Inter Milan, which is a point behind and hosts Atalanta later.

Sampdoria, which has played a match fewer than most other teams, moved five points behind Juventus.

"Explaining this match is difficult, it's a match which leaves you with your mouth open because we didn't let them have almost any chances," said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. "We played very well in the first half but if we didn't score it means we weren't good in finishing. Then we conceded a goal on their first chance, that's also football."

Juventus was without defender Andrea Barzagli and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who were recovering from the disappointment of Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup and Sampdoria made the most of their absences to expose the Bianconeri defensively.

Samp broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half when a poor clearance by Federico Bernardeschi on Fabio Quagliarella's cross fell straight to Zapata. He leapt above Stephan Lichtsteiner to send a looping header past Wojciech Szczesny.

Juventus upped the pressure but was stifled by a solid Sampdoria side, which doubled its lead in the 71st with a fine strike from Torreira from just outside the area into the bottom left corner.

It got worse for Juve eight minutes later. The defense should have dealt with a cut-back from former Juventus forward Quagliarella but Ferrari beat Sami Khedira to tap in from close range.

Juventus had penalty appeals turned down at the end of the first half but it was awarded a spot kick at the end of the second when Douglas Costa was tripped by Ivan Strinic for a last-gasp penalty. Higuain converted in the first minute of stoppage time but it seemed to be too little, too late.

Dybala reduced the deficit still further moments later when he ran down the right flank before cutting inside and placing the ball into the bottom right corner. But Juventus didn't have time to get the equalizer, with Higuain flagged offside in the last sequence of action.

___

MORE HEARTBREAK

Benevento again came agonizingly close to claiming its first Serie A point, before a late goal saw it lose 2-1 at home to Sassuolo.

Samuel Armenteros netted in the 65th for Benevento to cancel out Alessandro Matri's opener but the hosts' hopes of getting something from the match were dashed when defender Gaetano Letizia was sent off two minutes later following a second booking.

Benevento clung on and it appeared as if its luck was about to change when Domenico Berardi hit the crossbar with a stoppage-time penalty but Federico Peluso netted the winner two minutes later.

Benevento has no points from its first 13 Serie A matches and has twice before conceded a stoppage-time winner.

___

OTHER MATCHES

Talented youngster Federico Chiesa celebrated signing a new deal at Fiorentina with a late goal to help it draw 1-1 at Spal.

Chievo Verona also drew 1-1 at Torino, where home striker Andrea Belotti had his penalty saved.

Elsewhere, new Genoa coach Davide Ballardini had an ideal debut as he steered his side to a 1-0 win at Crotone. Cagliari won 1-0 at Udinese.

Socialist MEP will head rule of law delegation to Malta
… silence in tribute to late Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia during … Maltese government on the functioning of the rule of law in Malta … vociferous about the situation in Malta, repeatedly insisting that the island … other things, to investigate whether Malta is compliant with EU anti-money-laundering …
Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip to celebrate 70th wedding anniversary

When Britain's 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth married 26-year-old Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey in 1947, the wedding sparked joy and celebration in a country just recovering from World War II.

Seven decades on, the couple who would become Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip — now 91 and 96, respectively — are still going strong, their marriage a bedrock in British public life amid a world of change.

On Monday, they mark their 70th wedding anniversary, though officials say the milestone will be celebrated privately and no public events are planned. The royal family is reportedly marking the date with a gathering at Windsor Castle.

The queen is the first monarch in British history to celebrate a platinum wedding anniversary.

At their 50th wedding anniversary, Elizabeth praised her husband as "quite simply... my strength and stay all these years."

Elizabeth first met Philip, a naval officer and the son of Prince Andrew of Greece, as they attended the wedding of Philip's cousin in 1934.

The pair wed at Westminster Abbey in London on Nov. 20, 1947. It would be nearly another six years before Elizabeth would be crowned as monarch, also at Westminster Abbey.

In the decades that followed, Philip, who also holds the title Duke of Edinburgh, spent almost the entire duration of their marriage supporting his wife in her role as head of state. Both have cut back on their public engagements in recent years, and Philip retired from official duties earlier this year.

The royal couple has four children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Pope devotes Mass to poor, calls indifference a 'great sin

Celebrating Mass with poor people in the splendor of St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis on Sunday denounced those who dismiss poverty as "not my business" and defined indifference to the needy as a "great sin."

Later, the pontiff expressed particular concern for those impoverished by war.

After Mass, the pope lunched with some 1,500 poor people from Italy, Poland, France and elsewhere as the Catholic Church marked its first World Day of the Poor, an event created by Francis to draw attention to those living on the margins of society.

"To do no wrong is not enough," Francis declared in his homily.

Not using our lives to help others is a "great sin where the poor are concerned," Francis said. "Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, 'That doesn't concern me. It's not my business, it's society's problem.'"

It appeared to be a lunch the pope enjoyed immensely.

Francis laughed when a guest presented him with a scarf in the red-and-yellow colors of local soccer team Roma, which beat hometown rival Lazio a day earlier. He beamed as waiters served the poor, seated at his long table, plates filled with gnocchetti sardi, a shell-shaped pasta, topped with tomato sauce.

Elbow-to-elbow with his guests, Francis tucked a cloth napkin into his white cassock and ate with gusto.

A second course of veal and greens, a dessert of tiramisu and cups of coffee to top the meal off were also on the menu.

Other guests dined at round tables, covered with white cloths and decorated with a potted cyclamen, in the hall where the pope on Wednesdays holds his public audience.

Francis elaborated on the indifference theme

"It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it," he said. "God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good."

The poor, those who the world views as having "little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven. They are our 'passport to paradise,'" Francis said.

San Lawrenz Primary School celebrates Universal Children’s Day
The Minister for Gozo Justyne Caruana, was invited to join the students of San Lawrenz Primary School to participate in a get together to mark the occasion of Universal Children’s Day.The Minister was given a warm welcome by the children and presented …
Two winners share first prize in Gozo Live play writing competition
Saturday evening’s performance evening of plays entered into this year’s Gozo Live Play Writing Competition, was well attended by “a large enthusiastic audience despite the many other events taking place in Gozo that evening,” the organisers said.There …
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