Valletta returned to winning ways as they scored four in the first half to beat a depleted Birkirkara side 5-0. The Citizens join Hibernians on the six-points mark but even if the Paolites lose to Floriana on Friday, they would still take the Euro Cup home as they won the direct encounter with Valletta last Monday.
Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit named Christer Johanson and Omar El Ghaouti in the starting line-up, resting Nikola Vukanac, Shola Shodiya and Jorge Santos Silva. Gareth Sciberras, Joseph Zerafa, Paul Fenech, Angus Buhagiar and Shaun Bajada were also missing for the Stripes. Valletta, on the other hand, lacked Ryan Fenech.
The Citizens managed to take the lead on the 14th minute when off a cross by William Barbosa, Steve Borg headed the ball home past goalkeeper Reuben Gauci.
Ten minutes later, William Barbosa doubled the score for Valletta with a powerful drive which gave the Birkirkara goalkeeper no chance.
On the other side of the pitch, a long-distance effort by Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza was not held by Andre Krul who tipped the ball into a corner on 31 minutes. A good run by Denni on the right flank ended with a close-range shot by Denni which was blocked by Reuben Gauci.
Four minutes from the end of the first half, Valletta were awarded a penalty after Denni was brought down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Michael Mifsud made no mistake, hitting hard past the Birkirkara goalkeeper.
One minute in added time, Denni Rocha dos Santos scored the fourth goal after receiving a cross by Roderick Briffa from the right.
On the hour, Michael Mifsud tried his luck with a low shot from outside the area which was neutralised by Gauci. Substitute Cleavon Frendo was unlucky to have a goal-bound shot blocked on the goal-line by Denni four minutes later.
Denni hit the crossbar with a powerful shot from just outside the area on 78 minutes for Valletta and two minutes later, a low shot by Frendo was parried by Gauci.
Three minutes from time, Andre Krul rushed out of the area to stop substitute Ian Schembri from reducing the gap for Birkirkara.
However it was not over yet as Michael Mifsud sealed the issue with a fifth goal on the 90th minute as he controlled a pass inside the area and hit low in the corner past Reuben Gauci.
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Christer Johanson, Patrick Borg, Rodrigo Pereira, McAllister Clinch, Ryan Camenzuli (46’ Andre Cassar), Fabian Zammit, David Spiteri (81’ Ian Schembri), Michael Camilleri, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Omar El Ghaouti (46’ Roderick Taliana).
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Aiden Galea, Antoine Borg, Brandon Attard.
Coach: Paul Zammit
VALLETTA Andre Krul, Jonathan Caruana (46’ Dylan Grima), Steve Borg, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Ian Azzopardi (46’ Cleavon Frendo), Jussellio da Silva, Roderick Briffa (46’ Dyson Falzon), Ricardo da Rocha Filho, Denni Rocha dos Santos, William Barbosa, Michael Mifsud.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Edmond Agius, Kevin Sammut, Ian Zammit.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
Referee: Esther Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Joe Camilleri, Alex Grech
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: none
Scorers: 14’ Steve Borg, 24’ William Barbosa, 41’ Michael Mifsud pen, 45+1’ Denni Rocha dos Santos, 90′ Michael Mifsud
Photo: Copyright © domenic aquilina