With a goal in each half, Birkirkara managed to beat Qormi 2-0 to collect their first three points.
The Stripes had an edge over their opponents during the first half but for some time after the break, Qormi created some good opportunities.
Birkirkara had foreigners Rodrigo Pereira and Moises Avila Perez making their debut while Jorge Mora, Gareth Sciberras and Leighton Grech were making their first league appearance for Patrick Curmi’s side.
Stephen Azzopardi, on the other hand, had three former Vittoriosa players – Jeffrey Chetcuti, Dino Cachia and Stephen Wellman – together with Brazilian striker Jorge Da Silva Pereira making their debut.
Qormi had the first attempt at goal on the 2nd minute as Matthew Bartolo tested Jorge Mora with a low shot from the left which was turned into a corner.
Birkirkara however managed to take the lead on 13 minutes when Rowen Muscat served Moises Avila Perez on the right and the latter’s rising shot beat goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia.
Five minutes later, the Stripes went close once again with Trevor Cilia serving Alan Tabone from the left but the latter’s effort from the edge of the area was turned into a corner. In a swift counter-attack for Birkirkara, Trevor Cilia concluded a good run on the left flank with a diagonal shot which scraped past the post.
On the other side of the pitch, a Joseph Farrugia freekick scraped past the post on 41 minutes.
Fourteen minutes in the second half, Matthew Bartolo missed a good opportunity hitting just wide from inside the area.
On the 80th, Birkirkara went close once again when substitute Terence Vella served Moises Avila Perez on the left but the latter’s shot was blocked into a corner.
Four minutes from time, Christos Karamanolis brought Moises Avila Perez down inside the area. Referee Kevin Azzopardi ordered a penalty and from the penalty spot, Trevor Cilia made no mistake to double the score.
Qormi went close to scoring a consolation goal on the 89th but Roderick Sammut’s conclusion from outside the area ended just wide.
Trevor Cilia was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: James Galea www.fotoincmalta.com
B’KARA Jorge Mora, Rodrigo Pereira, Gareth Sciberras, Trevor Cilia, Alan Tabone (73’ Terence Vella), Andrew Decesare, Moises Avila Perez (90’ Ryan Scicluna), Leighton Grech (81’ Ryan Camenzuli), Joseph Zerafa, Angus Buhagiar, Rowen Muscat.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Paul Fenech, Michael Camilleri.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
Assistant Coach: Peter Pullicino
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Jeffrey Chetcuti (69’ Abubakar Bello-Osagie), Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo, Joseph Farrugia, Christos Karamanolis, George Chircop (76’ Luke Sciberras), Dino Cachia (83’ Charlon Sammut), Jonathan Bondin, Jorge Da Silva Pereira, Stephen Wellman.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Ranier Buhagiar, Christian Briffa, Steve Agius.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Technical Advisor: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant referees: William Debattista, Sammy Attard
Fourth official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: R. Pereira, J. Farrugia, J. Zerafa, J. Bondin, J. Chetcuti
Scorers: 13’ Moises Avila Perez, 86’ Trevor Cilia (pen)
Meanwhile in the second match, Sliema Wanderers and Hibernians shared the spoils in an entertaining 3-3 draw.
Edison Luis Dos Santos on one side and Jackson Lima Sequeira on the other impressed as defending on both sides left much to be desired.
Sliema had four players making their debut – Bulgarian Danial Mitev, Brazilian Jorge Santos Silva, Ryan Grech and Cleavon Frendo.
Hibernians, on the other hand, had debutante Clayton Failla making his return for the Paolites after re-joining the club from Sliema Wanderers. Other new faces in the Hibs squad were Brazilians Douglas Balbinot, Rodolfo Soares and Edison Luis Dos Santos.
Hibernians took the lead on the 4th minute when off a Steve Pisani cross from the right, Edison Luis Dos Santos headed home with the ball hitting the crossbar before ending at the back of the net.
However Sliema restored equilibrium a minute later when off a cross by Mark Scerri from the left, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza rounded a defender before hitting the ball past Mario Muscat.
On the 9th, Henry Bonello managed to turn into a corner a fine Clayton Failla effort.
But on the 11th, Clayton Failla was not to be denied as he put the Paolites 2-1 ahead with a fine freekick from the right which gave Bonello no chance.
Six minutes late, Sliema levelled matters with a great shot by Jackson Lima Sequeira after receiving a cross from the left and beating three Hibernians defenders.
On 26 minutes, Jackson Lima just failed to connect off a cross by Mifsud Triganza with the ball being cleared into a corner.
However one minute in added time, the Wanderers forged ahead when a Danial Mitev effort was partially saved by Muscat and off the rebound, Mark Scerri slammed the ball home.
A few second in the second half, Jackson Lima Sequeira could have added another when he concluded a good run on the right flank with a diagonal shot which hit the upright with Mario Muscat beaten. On the other side of the pitch, Edison Luis Dos Santos had a header cleared off the goal line by a defender.
The Wanderers were reduced to ten men on 59 minutes when Mark Scerri received a second yellow card for a foul just outside the area.
Hibernians equalised on 69 minutes when Edison Luis Dos Santos gained possession following a short clearance and with a fine shot from the right, he managed to beat Henry Bonello.
The Paolites went close once again with a powerful drive by Clayton Failla was partially saved by Bonello on 82 minutes. For Sliema, a powerful shot from the left by Jorge Santos Silva was somehow turned into a corner by Muscat two minutes later.
In stoppage time, Rodolfo Soares went close to notching the winner with an overhead kick following a cross from the right by Andrew Cohen.
Jackson Lima was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: James Galea www.fotoincmalta.com
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Julian Briffa (52’ Beppe Muscat), Josef Mifsud, Mark Scerri, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (76’ Cleavon Frendo), Danial Mitev (61’ Ryan Grech), Steve Bezzina, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Jackson Lima Sequeira, Roderick Bajada, Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Miguel Ciantar, Ryan Dalli, Jeremiah Ani.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Assistant Coach: Saviour Debono Grech
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Diego Balbinot, Rodolfo Soares, Adrian Pulis, Bjorn Kristensen, Steve Pisani (86’ Peter Anizoba Chizoba), Clayton Failla, Triston Caruana (65’ Edward Herrera), Andrew Cohen, Edison Luis Dos Santos.
Subs not used: Nicholas Grima, Aaron Xuereb, Ayrton Azzopardi, Johann Bezzina, Dylan Sammut.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant referees: Konrad Borg, Chris Francalanza
Fourth official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: M. Scerri, R. Bajada, D. Balbinot, Gatt Baldacchino
Red Cards: 59’ Mark Scerri
Scorers: 4’ Edison Luis Dos Santos (H); 5’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (S); 11’ Clayton Failla (H); 17’ Jackson Lima Sequeira (S); 45+1’ Mark Scerri (S); 69’ Edison Luis Dos Santos (H)