Hibernians will start the third round just two points behind leaders Valletta following a fine 2-0 win over Birkirkara in this weekend’s big match from the BOV Premier League.
After losing to Balzan last week, this second consecutive defeat for the Stripes means that they will start the final phase in fourth place on the 21-point mark, six behind Valletta, four behind Hibernians and two behind Balzan.
Hibs had former Birkirkara goalkeeper Justin Haber making his debut after joining them earlier this month. They lacked Rui da Gracia Gomes, Jorginho and Clayton Failla while Andrew Cohen, who was recovering from an injury, was retained on the bench. Birkirkara, on the other hand, welcomed back Ryan Scicluna and had Croatian striker Matija Smrekar making his debut.
The Paolites managed to break the deadlock on the 29th minute when they were awarded a freekick just outside the area and Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro’s well-taken freekick gave goalkeeper Kopric no chance.
Fifteen minutes from time, Hibs doubled the score when off a corner from the left by Gilmar, Bjorn Kristensen headed the ball home past the Birkirkara custodian.
B’KARA Miroslav Kopric, Cain Attard, Nikola Vukanac (70′ Matthew Guillaumier), Christian Bubalovic, Gareth Sciberras, Mislav Andelkovic, Ryan Scicluna, Ryan Camenzuli, Edison David Bilbao Zarate, L’Imam Seydi, Matija Smrekar.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Kurt Zammit, Maverick Gatt, Clint Zammit, Andrea Curmi, Fabien Lufi.
Coach: Drazen Besek
HIBS Justin Haber, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Bjorn Kristensen, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis dos Santos (85′ Jurgen Degabriele), Joseph Essien Mbong (79′ Diosdado Mbele Manugue Mba), Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro (89′ Dunstan Vella), Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Andrew Cohen, Zach Scerri, Jurgen Borg.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Fydor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Jurgen Spiteri
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Attard, Seydi, Camenzuli, Tarabai, Lima, Dias
Scorers: 29′ Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, 75′ Bjorn Kristensen
BOV Player of the Match: Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro