Birkirkara maintained hopes of securing second place and hence a place in the UEFA Europa League as they earned a point in a 1-1 draw with champions Valletta.
The Stripes narrowed the gap with Floriana to four points with two matches to go. The champions, on the other hand, extend their unbeaten run thanks to this draw.
Goal-mouth action was lacking on both sides of the pitch and the two goalkeepers had a most quiet evening.
The Citizens lacked the suspended Ian Azzopardi and Ramon Dos Santos. Omonigho Temile and Andrade Antunes Anderson were also missing from the squad. Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit could not count on Paul Fenech and Shaun Bajada.
The Stripes had the first attempt at goal on the 3rd minute with a cross shot from the right by Angus Buhagiar which just missed the target. Valletta replied with a shot by Denni from outside the area which was parried by Bartolo on the 7th.
On the 18th, following a cross from the left by Emiliano Lattes, Rowen Muscat anticipated Hogg but Roderick Briffa came to the rescue clearing the ball into safety.
The two teams continued to share the exchanges with the two goalkeepers hardly being tested.
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Five minutes in the second half, Andrei Agius tried his luck with a direct freekick from the left which ended just over the bar.
Valletta managed to take the lead on 79 minutes when substitute Terence Scerri received a cross from the left and anticipated the Birkirkara defence, hitting low past goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo from the edge of the area.
The Citizens were immediately reduced to ten men as referee Alan Mario Sant gave marching orders to Steve Borg.
The Stripes’ reaction consisted of a low shot from outside the area by substitute Michael Galea which ended wide on 87 minutes.
Three minutes later, they notched the equaliser when substitute Rodolfo Kumbrevicius received a perfect pass by Ibrahim Babatunde from the left and beat Hogg with a shot from inside the area.
Jonathan Caruana was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Roderick Briffa, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Gilbert Agius, Edmond Agius, Jamie Pace, Kevin Sammut, Denni Rocha Dos Santos (90’ Kurt Magro), Ian Zammit (71’ Terence Scerri), Ryan Fenech.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Kenneth Scicluna, Llywelyn Cremona, Samir Arab, Karl Azzopardi.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Asst. Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
B’KARA Manuel Bartolo, Emiliano Lattes, Angus Buhagiar, Joseph Zerafa, Andrew Decesare (67’ Michael Galea), Andrei Agius, Nikola Vukanac, Patrick Borg (75’ Karl Pulo), Rowen Muscat, Trevor Cilia (83’ Rodolfo Kumbrevicius), Ibrahim Babatunde.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Terence Vella, Ryan Scicluna, Ryan Camenzuli.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Alan Camilleri
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Buhagiar, Fenech, Babatunde, S. Borg, A. Agius
Red Cards: 79’ Steve Borg
Scorers: 79’ Terence Scerri (V); 90’ Rodolfo Kumbrevicius (B)