Birkirkara and Valletta were the first two teams to reach the semi-finals of the U*BET FA Trophy after beating Sliema Wanderers and Hibernians respectively.
In the first match, Manuel Bartolo was the hero for Birkirkara as he saved three penalties to send the Stripes in the semi-finals of the U*BET FA Trophy as they defeated Sliema Wanderers 3-1 on penalties following a highly-entertaining 3-3 draw at the end of extra-time.
An early goal put the Wanderers ahead but the Stripes turned the score in their favour. However Sliema levelled matters to force extra-time and even managed to go ahead. But Birkirkara notched a late equaliser.
Sliema lacked goalkeeper Viktor Szentpeteri and defender Beppe Muscat. Scottish goalie Michael Fraser was missing for the Stripes.
The Wanderers took the lead on the 4th minute with a fine shot by Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza from the right which was beat goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo.
Birkirkara replied with a close-range effort by Michael Galea which was blocked by a defender into a corner on 21 minutes. In a swift counter-attack for the Blues, Mifsud Triganza hit the foot of the upright with goalkeeper Bartolo beaten.
A Shaun Bajada freekick ended just wide on 27 minutes. On the half-hour, Sliema went close once again with a low shot by Etienne Barbara following a good run on the left but his attempt was blocked by the Birkirkara custodian.
The Wanderers missed a good chance on 38 minutes when off a good move by Obiefule inside the area, on the left, he served Etienne Barbara whose goal-bound shot was somehow saved by Manuel Bartolo.
Three minutes later, Birkirkara were awarded a penalty after Josef Mifsud floored Michael Galea inside the area. From the penalty spot, Michael Galea hit the foot of the upright with he ball being cleared into safety.
However one minute in added time, the Stripes levelled matters when off a cross by Michael Galea, Nikola Vukanac placed the ball at the back of the net.
Birkirkara forged ahead on 55 minutes when off a cross by Michael Galea, Ibrahim Babatunde took advantage of some misunderstanding by the Sliema defence and hit home.
Sliema restored equilibrium on 69 minutes when a cross shot by Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, deflected by a defender, beat Bartolo with the ball ending at the back of the net.
After having a goal by Michael Galea disallowed for an offside, Paul Fenech tried his luck with a shot from outside the area ending just wide on 72 minutes.
In stoppage time, the Stripes could have notched the winner when Michael Galea concluded a good run on the left with an inviting pass but Rowen Muscat failed to connect and Angus Buhagiar hit wide.
Nine minutes in the first half of extra-time, Lattes missed the chance of putting Birkirkara ahead, failing to connect off an Andrei Agius freekick from the right.
Sliema made it 3-2 eight minutes in the second half of extra-time when off a cross from the left, Etienne Barbara slammed the ball home past goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo.
But on the 118th minute, Birkirkara levelled matters with a great volley by Michael Galea which beat goalkeeper Henry Bonello following a cross from the right.
With the score 3-3, penalty-kicks had to decide the issue.
The penalty shoot-out:
Michael Galea hit wide, Noel Turner scored;
Emiliano Lattes scored, Mark Scerri – saved by goalkeeper;
Paul Fenech scored, Jackson Lima – saved by goalkeeper;
Ibrahim Babatunde scored, Roderick Bajada – saved by goalkeeper
Photos: Copyright © James Galea/www.fotoincmalta.com
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Josef Mifsud, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Steve Bezzina, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Jackson Lima Sequeira, Obinna Obiefule (83’ John Mintoff), Chakib Lachkhem (66’ Mark Scerri), Roderick Bajada, Clayton Failla, Etienne Barbara (116’ Noel Turner).
Subs not used: Ini Aktpan, Julian Briffa, Miguel Ciantar, James Paris.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Assistant Coach: Joseph Bajada
B’KARA Manuel Bartolo, Trevor Cilia (65’ Emiliano Lattes), Nikola Vukanac, Andrei Agius, Joseph Zerafa (36’ Rowen Muscat), Angus Buhagiar, Paul Fenech, Ibrahim Babatunde, Michael Galea, Andrew Decesare, Shaun Bajada (59’ Ryan Scicluna).
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Patrick Borg, Karl Pulo, Rodolfo Kumbrevicius.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Malcolm Mercieca
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Zerafa, Mifsud Triganza, Barbara, Vukanac, Lachkhem, Buhagiar, Mintoff
Scorers: 4’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (S); 45+1’ Nikola Vukanac (B); 55’ Ibrahim Babatunde (B); 69’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (S); 113’ Etienne Barbara (S); 118’ Michael Galea (B)
A goal in extra-time by Denni Rocha Dos Santos enabled holders Valletta to reach the semi-finals of the FA Trophy as they defeated Hibernians 1-0.
The two teams shared the exchanged throughout the hundred and twenty minutes and both sides had their fair share of scoring opportunities although the Citizens hit the posts twice.
Valletta lacked Jonathan Caruana, Roderick Briffa and Gilbert Agius. Hibernians, on the other hand, were in full strength.
After a quiet start for the two teams, on the 19th minute, goalkeeper Mario Muscat rushed out of the area to halt a fine run by Terence Scerri, the Hibs goalkeeper lost possession but Anderson Antunes could not connect with the ball being cleared into safety by the Hibs rear-guard.
On 36 minutes, following a cross from the right by Antunes, a good header by Denni was saved by Muscat. A minute later, a long–distance shot by the former Tarxien midfielder was once again saved by the Hibs custodian.
Four minutes in the second half, Muscat performed a good save on a fine Ryan Fenech freekick. Two minutes later, off a cross from the left by Bjorn Kristensen, Andrew Hogg anticipated Paul McManus.
On 64 minutes, McManus headed just over the bar following a cross from the left and on the other side of the pitch, Ryan Fenech went close with a cross shot from the left a minute later.
A powerful drive by Edward Herrera from the left on the 70th minute scraped past the post. Five minutes later, Jonathan Pearson headed high off an Andrew Cohen corner from the right. Ryan Fenech, on the other hand, was unlucky to hit the upright for Valletta with a shot from the edge of the area on the 80th. Shots by Edward Herrera and substitute Triston Caruana from the right both ended just wide.
Five minutes from time, Ryan Fenech hit the upright for Valletta after Antunes Anderson entered the penalty area from the right.
With the score still 0-0, the game went into extra-time.
One minute in the first half of extra-time, Anderson Antunes concluded a good solo effort with an angled shot from the right which hit the upright. An Antunes effort from the edge of the area was deflected into a corner two minutes later.
Valletta finally managed to break the deadlock on the 99th minute when off a perfect pass by Ryan Fenech from the left, Denni Rocha Dos Santos tapped the ball home from close range.
Three minutes in the second half of extra-time, Denni missed a good chance of doubling the score when hitting high off a good cross by Ryan Fenech from the left.
The Paolites replied with a powerful drive by Jonathan Pearson which was tipped into a corner on the 112th minute. Three minutes later, Anderson Antunes served Denni whose close-range effort was parried by Muscat
Photos: Copyright © James Galea/www.fotoincmalta.com
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VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Ian Azzopardi, Ramon Dos Santos, Steve Borg, Ryan Fenech (120′ Omonigho Temile), Edmond Agius, Jamie Pace, Kevin Sammut, Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Andrade Antunes Anderson, Terence Scerri (75’ Ian Zammit).
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Dylan Zammit, Dylan D’Agostino, Kurt Magro, Kenneth Scicluna.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Assistant Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera, Matt Clarke, Aaron Xuereb, Adrian Pulis (48’ Bjorn Kristensen), Jonathan Pearson, Patrick Osei, Richie Hart, Andrew Cohen, Paul McManus (100’ Abdelilah Taki), Ryan Camilleri (79’ Triston Caruana).
Subs not used: Daniel Ballzan, Brian Fairbairn, Matthew Tabone, Matthew Gauci.
Coach: Mark Miller
Assistant Coach: Edmond Lufi
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: M. Clarke, E. Agius, A. Cohen, I. Zammit, K. Sammut, A. Xuereb
Scorers: 99’ Denni Rocha Dos Santos