Birkirkara bounced back from last weekend’s heavy defeat to Floriana as they beat Tarxien Rainbows 3-0 to move back in second place, on level points with the Greens.
It was a deserved win for Paul Zammit’s side who were the better team throughout the whole ninety minutes. The Rainbows, on the other hand, were suffering the fifth defeat in six matches and now lie six points behind Birkirkara and Floriana.
Andrei Agius was missing for the Stripes as he was serving a one-match ban.
Birkirkara went close to taking the lead on the 11th minute when off a pass by Trevor Cilia, Ibrahim Babatunde had a goal-bound shot blocked by a defender and off the rebound, Michael Galea’s effort was also blocked.
Sergio Pacheco headed the ball home following a freekick from the right but the goal was disallowed for an offside. On the other side of the pitch, on 26 minutes, Trevor Cilia’s low shot was parried by David Cassar. Two minutes later, Ricardo Costa hit the woodwork with a close-range header following a corner by Julian Vella.
The Tarxien custodian performed a great save on a cross shot by Trevor Cilia from the right, therefore anticipating Babatunde on 33 minutes.
Three minutes from the end of the first half, Daniel Mariano Bueno served Luke Vella Critien on the right but the latter’s effort was deflected into a corner.
Birkirkara managed to break the deadlock on the 45th minute when Ibrahim Babatunde entered the area from the left, serving Michael Galea who passed the ball to Trevor Cilia who slammed the ball home from close range.
Nine minutes in the second half, Nikola Vukanac sent a through pass for Michael Galea who advanced before beating David Cassar with a perfect lob to make it 2-0.
Six minutes from time, Birkirkara sealed the issue with a third goal as Ibrahim Babatunde beat goalkeeper David Cassar with an angled shot from the right.
Michael Galea was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photo: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
B’KARA Manuel Bartolo, Ibrahim Babatunde, Andrew Decesare, Trevor Cilia (62’ Emiliano Lattes), Joseph Zerafa, Paul Fenech, Rowen Muscat, Nikola Vukanac, Shaun Bajada (79’ Ryan Scicluna), Michael Galea (85’ Rodolfo Kumbrevicius), Angus Buhagiar.
Subs not used: Jonathan Martinelli, Terence Vella, Karl Pulo, Ryan Camenzuli.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Branko Nisevic
TARXIEN David Cassar, Everton Antonio Pereira, Gianluca Calabretta (57’ Sergio Hili), Ricardo Costa, Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira (57’ Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues), Daniel Mariano Bueno, Luke Vella Critien (73’ Steve Sadowski), Julian Vella, Ryan Mintoff, Lee Galea, Justin Grioli.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Andre Farrugia, Manuel Caruana, Orosco Anonam.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Asst. Coach: Michael Church
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Malcolm Mercieca
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Buhagiar
Scorers: 45’ Trevor Cilia, 54’ Michael Galea, 84’ Ibrahim Babatunde
Sliema Wanderers defeated Hibernians 3-2 in a clash from the Relegation Pool which came to life after the break.
The Paolites lacked Bjorn Kristensen and Abdelilah Taki while Josef Mifsud, Mark Scerri and Miguel Ciantar were missing for the Wanderers.
Hibernians had the first attempt at goal with a direct freekick by Andrew Cohen ending wide on 21 minutes. A minute later, a long-distance shot by Paul McManus, deflected by a defender, was parried by Henry Bonello
The Sliema goalkeeper then performed a good save into a corner on a shot from the edge of the area by Triston Caruana, served by Osei on 23 minutes.
In added time, Bonello managed to turn into a corner a close-range header by Matt Clarke following a freekick by Brian Fairbairn from the right, deflected by Matthew Tabone.
Four minutes in the second half, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza tried to anticipate Daniel Balzan with a lob from the left but the ball just missed the target. Two minutes later, Obinna Obiefule entered the penalty from the right but his low shot was neutralised by the Hibs custodian.
The Wanderers were awarded a penalty on 61 minutes after Matt Clarke brought Obiefule inside the area. From the penalty spot, Jackson Lima Sequeira made no mistake to put Sliema ahead.
Hibernians levelled matters on the 70th minute thanks to a great rising shot by Andrew Cohen which saw the ball hitting the upright before ending at the back of the net.
Five minutes later, Sliema regained the lead with a freekick by Jackson Lima Sequeira which hit the upright following a slight deflection and ended at the back of the net with goalkeeper Daniel Balzan’s vision obstructed by the presence of a number of players in front of him.
Triston Caruana restored equilibrium on 78 minutes when he received a cross from the right and after having a first attempt blocked, he slotted the ball past goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
Two minutes in added time, Keith Tanti brought Ryan Dalli down iside the area. Referee Mario Apap ordered a penalty and Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Andrew Cohen was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photo: Copyright © www.fotoincmalta.com
HIBS Daniel Balzan, Edward Herrera, Matthew Tabone, Aaron Xuereb, Matt Clarke, Patrick Osei, Triston Caruana, Brian Fairbairn (70’ Richie Hart), Andrew Cohen, Matthew Gauci (65’ Ayrton Azzopardi), Paul McManus (90’ Keith Tanti).
Subs not used: Mario Muscat, Warren Chircop, Johann Bezzina, Rene Duca.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Edmond Lufi
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Steve Bezzina, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Jackson Lima Sequeira, Obinna Obiefule, Chakib Lachkhem (79’ Ryan Dalli), Roderick Bajada, John Mintoff (61’ Julian Briffa), Beppe Muscat (83’ Andrew Caligari), Clayton Failla.
Subs not used: Viktor Szentpeteri, Noel Turner, Ian Scerri, Adam Spiteri.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Asst. Coach: Joseph Bajada
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: J. Mintoff, J. Briffa, K. Tanti
Scorers: 62’ Jackson Lima Sequeira (pen) (S); 70’ Andrew Cohen (H); 75’ Jackson Lima Sequeira (S); 78’ Triston Caruana (H); 90+2′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (pen)(S)