Birkirkara registered their third win as they scored a goal in each half to beat Rabat Ajax 2-0.
The Magpies gave a good account of themselves, controlling their opponents for long stretches.
Birkirkara had Edward Herrera making his debut after being included as a substitute. They welcomed back Nikola Vukanac after serving a two-match ban but Brazilian striker Joselito was ruled out injured and Ryan Scicluna was suspended. Rabat, on the other hand, could not count on Clive Brincat and Gaetano Gesualdi.
The Stripes had the first attempt at goal on the 15th minute with a close-range effort by Rowen Muscat hitting the upright following a corner from the left by Jhonnattann.
Birkirkara managed to take the lead on 33 minutes when off a Jhonnattann corner from the left, Nikola Vukanac rose high to head the ball home past goalkeeper Sean Mintoff.
Rabat replied with a Ryan Micallef shot beating Reuben Gauci but the goal was disallowed for an offside, signalled by assistant referee Chris Francalanza, just before the end of the first half.
Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg
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Two minutes in the second half, Gauci managed to turn into a corner an Adam Smeir freekick.
The Stripes however doubled the score on 59 minutes when off a Jhonnattann corner from the right, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza flicked the ball home from close range.
Jhonnattann was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Joseph Zerafa (83’ Fabian Zammit), Nikola Vukanac, Ryan Camenzuli (65’ Edward Herrera), Rowen Muscat, Gareth Sciberras, Alejandro Mendoza Carujo, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Zach Muscat, Paul Fenech, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (72’ Harun Shola Shodiya).
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Ian Schembri, Godwin Mackay, David Spiteri.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
RABAT Sean Mintoff, Christopher Schembri, Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Nerijus Astrauskas, Adam Smeir (83’ Neil Farrugia), Manuel Moral Fuster (88’ Christian Muscat), Dylan Falzon, Ryan Micallef, Yan Cauchi (53’ Heiner Backhaus), David Azzopardi.
Subs not used: Jonathan Azzopardi, Justin Felice, Kurt Muscat, Shaun Gauci.
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joe Galea
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Christopher Francalanza, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: J. Caruana, A. Smeir, Z. Muscat, P. Fenech, H. Backhaus
Scorers: 33’ Nikola Vukanac, 59’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza
Meanwhile Mosta collected their first three points as a brace by Obinna Obiefule enabled them to beat Sliema Wanderers 2-0 despite having a player sent off mid-way through the second half.
This was definitely the best performance so far for Steve D’Amato’s side creating the best goal-scoring opportunities. Sliema, on the other hand, still played a good game but had few attempts at goal.
The Wanderers had several changes from the team which defeated Tarxien last week with Italian striker Alain Faccini making his debut. Missing from the squad were Pablo Gonzalez. Mosta, on the other hand, lacked Steve Bezzina and Alex Cini and had substitute Onyii Steve Chemeka making his debut.
Mosta took the lead on the 13th minute when off a cross by Daniel Bogdanovic from the right, Obinna Obiefule headed the ball home past goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
Sliema replied with a conclusion from outside the area by Matias Muchardi ending just wide on 18 minutes. A minute later, Justin Haber blocked a close-range effort by Faccini.
Early in the second half, a Danail Mitev effort was deflected into a corner and then Ousseni Zongo had a low shot which was parried by Henry Bonello on 62 minutes.
Three minutes later, Mosta were reduced to ten men after having Ryan Grech sent off by referee Marco Borg.
A Daniel Bogdanovic freekick ended just wide on 68 minutes for Mosta. Five minutes later, Bonello performed a good save on a header by Obiefule off a cross from the right by Chiemeka.
One minute from time, Mosta secured victory thanks to another goal by Obinna Obiefule who rounded the goalkeeper before placing the ball at the back of the net.
In added time, the Wanderers tried hard to reduce the gap but the Mosta rear-guard led by goalkeeper Justin Haber kept them at bay.
Daniel Bogdanovic was voted BOV Player of the Match.
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Josef Mifsud, Andrew Decesare (46 John Mintoff), Paltemio Barbetti, Alain Faccini, Mark Scerri, Matias Muchardi (58’ Ivan Woods), Omar El Ghaouti, Miguel Ciantar.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Branislav Timotic, Luca Martinelli, Beppe Muscat, Andrew Caligari.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: JoJo Bajada
MOSTA Justin Haber, Ferdinando Apap, Bryan Agius, Manolito Micallef, Luke Dimech, Ryan Grech, Danail Mitev (70’ Onjii Steve Chiemeka), Carlos Campagnoli, Ousseni Zongo (74’ Jonathan Bajada), Daniel Bogdanovic, Obinna Obiefule (90+4’ Firas Aboulezz).
Subs not used: Kurt Rizzo, Gianluca Vella, Adrian Farrugia, Kurt Zammit.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Muchardi, Grech, Agius, Muscat
Red Cards: 65’ Ryan Grech
Scorers: 13’ Obinna Obiefule, 89’ Obinna Obiefule