A goal by Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao enabled Birkirkara to stay on top the BOV Premier League table as they defeated Tarxien Rainbows 1-0.
The Stripes now lead the table with 34 points, two ahead of Hibernians and seven ahead of Sliema and Valletta, leaving the Rainbows in fifth place on 26 points.
Tarxien lacked Manuel Caruana, Steve Sadowski and Orosco Anonam but welcomed back Branislav Timotic. Birkirkara, on the other hand, were in full strength.
The two teams shared the exchanges in the early stages with the first real goal-scoring opportunity occurring on 32 minutes with Steve Bonnici just missing the target with a header following a cross by Daniel Mariano Bueno from the right. A Roderick Bajada long-distance effort ended just over the bar one minute from half-time.
On the hour, Bueno went close with a header, off a cross from the left, which was saved by Justin Haber. Two minutes later, a powerful shot by Andrezinho from the right ended just wide.
Birkirkara finally managed to break the deadlock on 66 minutes when off Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza sent Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao through and the latter hit low past goalkeeper Nicky Vella.
Five minutes later, the Stripes could have doubled the score when off a perfect assist by Shola Shodiya for Jhonnattann, the latter’s attempt was blocked into safety by Ryan Sammut.
Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao was voted BOV Player of the Match.
TARXIEN Nicky Vella, Carlo Mamo, Andrew Agius (82’ David Fenech), Andre Reinaldo de Souza Esposito, Roderick Bajada, Leandro da Silva Almeida (90’ Clive Fenech), Justin Grioli (58’ Mark Tanti), Ryan Sammut, Daniel Mariano Bueno, Branislav Timotic, Steven Bonnici.
Subs not used: David Cassar, Luke Zahra, Nigel Vella, Gianluca Calabretta.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Asst. Coach: Steve Vella
B’KARA Justin Haber, Edward Herrera, Nikola Vukanac, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Joseph Zerafa, Rodrigo Pereira (63’ Harun Shola Shodiya), Rowen Muscat, Gareth Sciberras (22’ Ryan Scicluna), Paul Fenech, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (83’ Zach Muscat).
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Ryan Camenzuli, Yosimar Hernandez, Joselito dos Reis.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Esther Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Peter Abela
Fourth official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Fenech, Agius, Mamo, Bajada
Scorers: 66’ Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao
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Meanwhile Hibernians kept the pace with leaders Birkirkara as they registered a fine 4-2 win over Valletta.
An own goal paved the way for the Paolites who managed to build a three-goal lead by the half-hour. For the Citizens, this was yet another disappointing result as they now lie seven points behind Birkirkara and five behind Hibernians.
The Paolites could not have a better start, taking the lead on the 5th minute when off a long-distance cross, Jason Lee Vandelannoite anticipated Manuel Bartolo with the ball hitting the foot of the post before ending at the back of the net for an own goal.
Valletta replied with a freekick by William Barbosa which was blocked by a defender and off the rebound, Ryan Fenech’s effort was saved in two attempts by Mario Muscat. On the other side of the pitch, Jean Paul Farrugia missed a good opportunity from inside the area on the 15th.
Hibernians doubled the score on the 26th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Jason Lee Vandelannoite floored Edison Luis dos Santos. An incident which however seemed to occur just outside the area. Referee Malcolm Spiteri sent off the Belgian defender and from the penalty spot, Clayton Failla converted.
Four minutes later, the Paolites made it 3-0 when a shot by Marcelo Dias was partially saved by Manuel Bartolo and off the rebound, Jean Paul Farrugia placed the ball at the back of the net.
On the 34th minute, Tarabai served Jean Paul Farrugia whose conclusion was deflected into a corner.
Valletta reduced the gap on the 40th when William Barbosa converted a penalty following a foul by Ryan Camilleri on Michael Mifsud.
After the break, Hibs controlled the proceedings without particular difficulty, going close to increasing the lead on 78 minutes thanks to a Bjorn Kristensen effort when served by Jackson Lima.
However on the 80th minute, substitute Jackson di Lima Siqueira scored the fourth goal thanks to a great shot from outside the area when served by Bjorn Kristensen from the right which gave goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo no chance.
One minute from time, Valletta were awarded a penalty after Mario Muscat brought Abubakar Bello-Osagie down inside the area. Mario Muscat was sent off by referee Malcolm Spiteri and Demba Toure made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Edison Luis dos Santos was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias (62’ Jackson di Lima Siqueira), Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Zoran Levnajic, Edison Luis dos Santos (83’ Ayrton Azzopardi), Jean Paul Farrugia (90’ Daniel Balzan gk).
Subs not used: Scott Chircop, Brandon Muscat, Keith Tanti, Karl Conti.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Darren Abdilla
VALLETTA Manuel Bartolo, Roderick Briffa, Jonathan Caruana, Jason Lee Vandelannoite, Ian Azzopardi, Edmond Agius (46’ Dyson Falzon), William Barbosa (73’ Abubakar Bello-Osagie), Denni Rocha dos Santos (73’ Joao Gabriel da Silva), Demba Toure, Ryan Fenech, Michael Mifsud.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Llywelyn Cremona, Joseph Jo Jo Ogunuppe, Daniel Camilleri.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Kristensen, Camilleri, Farrugia, Fenech, Toure, Briffa, Caruana
Red Cards: 25’ Jason Lee Vandelannoite, 89’ Mario Muscat
Scorers: 5’ own goal Jason Lee Vandelannoite, 26’ Clayton Failla (pen); 30’ Jean Paul Farrugia; 40’ William Barbosa (pen), 80’ Jackson di Lima Siqueira, 90’ Demba Toure (pen)