Birkirkara registered their second win since Paul Zammit took over as new coach as they beat ten-man Floriana 3-0. A win which puts the Stripes in third place on sixteen points, seven behind leaders Hibernians and six behind Valletta.
The two teams shared the exchanges during the first half but a penalty and the dismissal of goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo on the 55th minute proved to be the turning point of the game.
Floriana had two new faces in their starting line-up, Swedish midfielder Andre Grabowski and Brazilian striker Lucas Pessanha but lacked the injured Christian Caruana and Tyrone Farrugia. Besides Shaun Bajada who is yet to make his first appearance this season, Birkirkara were in full strength and had Serbian goalkeeper Aleksandar Canovic for the first time in squad.
The Stripes missed a good opportunity on the 20th when following a misunderstanding in the Floriana defence, the ball reached the unmarked Terence Vella whose powerful drive ended wide. On 39 minutes, Moises Avila Perez headed just over the bar following a cross from the right by Trevor Cilia.
Lucas Pessanha had a close-range shot blocked by Jorge Mora on 51 minutes and a minute later off a cross from the right by Grabowski, the Brazilian striker
On 54 minutes, referee Fyodor Zammit ordered a penalty for a tackle by Doffo on Joseph Zerafa. From the penalty spot, Trevor Cilia made no mistake to put Birkirkara ahead.
Manuel Bartolo, who had just been cautioned for protests when the penalty was awarded, received a second yellow card for hitting the ball in the direction of the Birkirkara players who were celebrating and was therefore sent off. Coach Michael Woods replaced Clyde Borg with goalkeeper Jurgen Borg.
Birkirkara doubled the score on 58 minutes when off a cross by Trevor Cilia from the right, Joseph Zerafa hit hard past Jurgen Borg from close range.
The Greens’ reaction consisted of a Pablo Doffo freekcik which hit the upright on 72 minutes.
Six minutes later, the Stripes added another one when Owen Bugeja committed an own goal in an attempt to clear the ball into safety following a shot by Terence Vella from the left, served by Leighton Grech.
Terence Vella was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Manuel Bartolo, Owen Bugeja, Thomas Paris, Pablo Doffo, Manolito Micallef, Ivan Woods, Duncan Pisani, Christian Cassar, Clyde Borg (57’ Jurgen Borg – gk), Andre Grabowski (81’ John Mintoff), Lucas Pessanha (75’ Ryan Darmanin).
Subs not used: Luke Agius, Joseph Borg, Brooke Farrugia, Boris Odwong.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Frank Schembri
B’KARA Jorge Mora (74’ Aleksandar Canovic), Rowen Muscat, Dragan Perisic, Joseph Zerafa, Gareth Sciberras, Paul Fenech, Moises Avila Perez (82’ Shola Haruna Shodiya), Rodrigo Pereira, Angus Buhagiar (66’ Leighton Grech), Terence Vella, Trevor Cilia.
Subs not used: Andrew Decesare, Ryan Camenzuli, Ryan Scicluna, Alan Tabone.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: C. Borg, Fenech, M. Bartolo, Sciberras, Pereira, Doffo, Mintoff
Red Cards: 55’ Manuel Bartolo
Scorers: 54’ Trevor Cilia (pen), 58’ Joseph Zerafa, 78’ own goal Owen Bugeja