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Valletta in pole position after three-goal victory

SP Tre Fiori 0-3 Valletta FC
Two goals either side of half-time and a 70th-minute penalty earned Valletta a significant lead to take back to Malta for the return leg.

Giacomo Benedettini of Tre Fiori shields the ball from Valletta's Ryan Fenech
Giacomo Benedettini of Tre Fiori shields the ball from Valletta's Ryan Fenech ©Filippo Pruccoli

Valletta FC will take a three-goal advantage into next Wednesday's second leg thanks to a convincing 3-0 victory against San Marinese champions SP Tre Fiori.

Denni's strike just before the break followed by Alfred Effiong's goal five minutes into the second half gave Valletta a comfortable lead before Gilbert Agius completed the scoring from the penalty spot to put Valletta in command of the tie.

The visitors dominated proceedings in the first half, forcing Mauro Bertozzi in the Tre Fiori goal into a string of fines saves, most notably an excellent stop from Ryan Fenech's free-kick. However, with the game seemingly headed towards a goalless first half, the Maltese champions took the lead. Some neat build-up play involving captain Edmond Agius and William Barbosa set up Denni whose cool finish put the visitors ahead.

Buoyed by their opening goal, Leonard Farrugia's side started the second half as they had ended the first. Effiong's run evaded the attentions of the Tre Fiori defence and the 26-year-old doubled Valletta's lead. The hosts were denied a route back into the game when Federico Macina's effort was saved by Andrew Hogg, before Agius's 70th-minute spot-kick put the Maltese champions in pole position to face FK Ekranas in the next round.

The two sides meet again on 6 July for the right to take on the Lithuanian champions in the second qualifying round.