Birkirkara registered a most comfortable 4-1 win over Marsaxlokk to move second and end the Southseasiders’ positive run.
The Stripes, who are now second, six points behind leaders Valletta, were the better side right from the start. Marsaxlokk, on the other hand, disappointed and are now fourth on nineteen points.
Birkirkara lacked Michael Fraser, Shaun Bajada and Rowen Muscat with Emiliano Lattes starting the game on the bench. Marsaxlokk, on the other hand, welcomed back Florent Raimy but Peter Pullicino and Clive Brincat were missing.
The Stripes held the initiative early in the game, going close with an Andrei Agius header, off a corner from the right by Trevor Cilia, saved by Reuben Gauci.
Birkirkara managed to take the lead on 34 minutes when off a good pass by Ibrahim Babatunde, Ryan Scicluna controlled the ball on the right before hitting past goalkeeper Reuben Gauci.
Two minutes from the end of the first half, the Stripes doubled the score when off a cross from the right, Trevor Cilia’s header was partially saved by Gauci, Michael Galea took the rebound, serving Ibrahim Babatunde whose close-range effort beat the Marsaxlokk goalkeeper.
The substitution of Julio Alcorse with Alfred Effiong was marred with controversy as the Argentine striker chose to leave the pitch from behind the goal-posts and threw the shirt onto the pitch.
A cross shot by Florent Raimy was saved partially by Manuel Bartolo on the 70th minute and off the rebound, Alfred Effiong’s shot was neutralised by the Birkirkara goalkeeper.
Birkirkara increased the lead on 76 minutes when Ryan Scicluna served Michael Galea whose fine shot from the left beat goalkeeper Reuben Gauci.
Two minutes from time, Marsaxlokk reduced the gap when off a cross by Martin Deanov, the ball was not held by Manuel Bartolo and Alfred Effiong hit home from close range.
However a minute later, Birkirkara restored a three-goal lead when substitute Emiliano Lattes concluded a good run on the right flank with a low shot which beat Gauci.
Andrei Agius was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.fotoincmalta.com
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M’XLOKK Reuben Gauci, Malcolm Licari, Carlo Mamo, Emil Yanchev, Rumen Galabov, Florent Raimy (85’ Ruben Guerreiro Gravata), Gareth Sciberras, Trevor Templeman, Martin Deanov, Ryan Darmanin (77’ Sunday Eboh), Julio Alcorse (54’ Alfred Effiong).
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Luca Lodetti, Andrew Spiteri, Gary Caruana.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
Assistant Coach: Peter Pullicino
B’KARA Manuel Bartolo, Trevor Cilia (68’ Emiliano Lattes), Andrei Agius, Nikola Vukanac, Ryan Scicluna, Andrew Decesare, Joseph Zerafa, Paul Fenech, Angus Buhagiar (87’ Terence Vella), Michael Galea (82’ Rodolfo Kumbrevicius), Ibrahim Babatunde.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Ryan Camenzuli, Patrick Borg, Karl Pulo.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Joe Camilleri
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: none
Scorers: 34’ Ryan Scicluna (B); 43’ Ibrahim Babatunde (B); 76’ Michael Galea (B); 88’ Alfred Effiong (M); 89’ Emiliano Lattes (B)
Despite having to play for the whole second half in ten men, Sliema Wanderers managed to beat Vittoriosa Stars 2-1 in a match from the Relegation Pool to secure their Premier League status and almost condemn the Stars to Division 1.
In fact, when the teams are yet to play three matches each in the Relegation Pool, Hibs and Sliema lead the way with seventeen points, followed by Qormi on fourteen and Vittoriosa six. Qormi therefore need two points to make sure of playing in the Premeir League next season.
Viktor Szentpeteri, Alex Muscat and Mark Scerri were all missing for the Wanderers. Vittoriosa lacked Pierre Aquilina, Ryan Grech and Kevin Mifsud.
The Stars had the first attempt at goal on the 2nd minute with Carlos Campagnoli testing Henry Bonello with a direct freekick from the left which was partially saved by the Sliema custodian. Five minutes later, Chakib Lachkhem served Clayton Failla but his conclusion ended high.
The Wanderers were reduced to ten men on 37 minutes when Roderick Bajada received a second yellow card for a foul just outside the area.
One minute from the end of the first half, Alan Tabone released Edison Luis Dos Santos inside the area but the latter lost control when faced by goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
Simon Agius performed a good save on a Clayton Failla effort five minutes in the second half.
Four minutes later, Vittoriosa took the lead when a Leighton Grech effort was deflected by captain Josef Mifsud past goalkeeper Henry Bonello for an own goal.
Sliema levelled matters on 72 minutes when off a Noel Turner pass from the left, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza’s effort was not held by Simon Agius with the ball ending at the back of the net.
The Wanderers went close once again on 81 minutes, Agius performed a good save on a Clayton Failla freekick. Five minutes later, a diagonal shot by Chakib Lachkhem from the right ended just wide.
Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza was on target again on the 89th minute when he slotted the ball past the Vittoriosa goalkeeper when served by Obiefule inside the area.
On the 90th, Obinna Obiefule could have added another goal for Sliema but his powerful drive hit the crossbar.
Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza was voted BOV Player of the Match.
VITTORIOSA Simon Agius, Carl Sammut, Murilo Maccari (82’ Anthony Ewurum), Jeffrey Chetcuti, Edison Luis Dos Santos, Jorge Santos Silva, Stephen Wellman, Leighton Grech (74’ Clayton Micallef), Jonathan Xerri, Alan Tabone (88’ Mauro Brincat), Carlos Campagnoli.
Subs not used: Jean Matthias Vella, Justin Camilleri, Dino Cachia, Larry Lagana.
Assistant Coach: Darren Abdilla
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Josef Mifsud, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Steve Bezzina (58’ Etienne Barbara), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Jackson Lima Sequeira, John Mintoff (46’ Noel Turner), Beppe Muscat (72’ Obinna Obiefule), Clayton Failla, Roderick Bajada, Chakib Lachkhem.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Aktpan, Julian Briffa, Miguel Ciantar, Adam Spiteri.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Assistant Coach: Joseph Bajada
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Thomas Debono, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: R. Bajada, A. Tabone, S. Wellman, E. Dos Santos
Red Cards: 37’ Roderick Bajada
Scorers: 54′ own goal Josef Mifsud (V); 72′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (S); 89’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (S)