Birkirkara struggled much more than expected to beat Balzan 2-1 to stay on top the BOV Premier League table together with Hibernians.
Balzan, on the other hand, were disappointed to end the game empty-handed as they aimed for a positive result in their bid to secure a top-six
Dani Miguelez, Firas Aboulezz and Mark Spiteri were all missing for Jesmond Zerafa’s side while Birkirkara lacked Matheus Bissi da Silva. The Stripes risked suffering a goal on the 21st minute when Alejandro Mendoza’s back-pass for Justin Haber was intercepted by Jose Luis Armario Negrin but the Malta goalkeeper
intercepted the ball before the Balzan striker could do any damage.
A minute later, the referee ordered an indirect freekick inside the Balzan area after goalkeeper Michael Falzon handled the ball after a back pass. However from the resultant freekick, Nikola Vukanac hit high. A header by Terence Vella, off a cross by Paul Fenech, hit the upright with the ball ending into Michael Falzon‘s safe
hands from the rebound.
Birkirkara took the lead four minutes from the end of the first half when Michael Falzon stumbled into his team mate Steve Bezzina, Shola Shodiya took the loose ball and served Paul Fenech who headed the ball home inside the empty net.
However nine minutes in the second half, Balzan levelled matters when off a swift counter attack on the left, Lydon Micallef passed the ball to Jose Luis Armario Negrin and the latter’s through pass was well controlled by Dylan Grima whose central shot ended at the back of the net. Andrew Scicluna accidentally hit the upright with a header in an attempt to clear the ball off a cross by Terence Vella on 69 minutes. Off the rebound, Jhonnattann hit just side. Two minutes later, in another swift counter-attack for Balzan, Armario Negrin’s diagonal shot finished inches wide past the upright.
However twelve minutes from time, Terence Vella served Haruna Shola Shodiya whose conclusion from outside the penalty area beat Michael Falzon with the ball ending at the back of the net.
BALZAN Michael Falzon, Justin Grioli, Andrew Scicluna, Rodrigo Frank Pereira, Steve Bezzina, Fabio Vignaroli, Luke Sciberras (83′ Ryan Darmanin), Dylan Grima, Lydon Micallef, Joselito dos Reis Santos (73′ Erjon Beu), Jose Luis Armario Negrin.
Subs not used: Guilherme Lorenzi Schelski, Godwin McKay, Aaron Agius, Michael Borg, Gianluca Calabretta.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
B’KARA Justin Haber, Rowen Muscat, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Nikola Vukanac, Paul Fenech, Joseph Zerafa, Frank Temile (80′ Daniel Zerafa), Zach Muscat (63′ Edward Herrera), Haruna Shola Shodiya, Terence Vella, Ryan Scicluna (63′ Jhonnattann Beites da Conceicao).
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Demba Toure, Kurt Zammit, Gareth Sciberras.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Zerafa, Scicluna, Pereira, Beu, Armario Negrin
Scorers: 41’ Paul Fenech, 54’ Dylan Grima, 78′ Haruna Shola Shodiya
BOV Player of the Match: Paul Fenech
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 668
Mosta bounced back from the heavy defeat to Valletta with a most comfortable 4-0 win over bottom-placed Rabat Ajax. A win which put the Blues back on track in their bid to secure a place in the Championship Pool.
For the Magpies, this was the eleventh defeat in thirteen matches and they remain anchored at the bottom of the table with four points.
Rabat welcomed back Diego Carrillo, Dani Pelaez, Shaun Gauci and Jonathan Bajada but Pavle Velimirovic, Ryan Micallef and Adam Smeir were unavailable. Mosta, on the other hand, lacked Diego Pereira.
Mosta took the lead on 29 minutes thanks to a direct freekick by Gianmarco Piccioni which beat goalkeeper Jonathan Azzopardi. On the 34th, Mosta went close
once again with Yuri Messias de Oliveira effort ending just wide.
Three minutes from the end of the first half, a close-range header by Moises Avila Perez was neutralised by Omar Borg following a cross by Diego Carrillo.
Two minutes in the second half, Mosta were awarded a penalty after a defender handled the ball inside the area. From the penalty spot, Gianmarco Piccioni converted.
On the 56th, Ivan Carapic floored Gianmarco Piccioni inside the area and from the penalty spot, Cristian Martins Fernandes made no mistake to make it 3-0.
Cristian Martins Fernandes added another goal on the 69th minute when he connected he ball in style off a cross by substitute Ricardinho Faria.
MOSTA Omar Borg, Kane Farrugia (81′ Kurt Zammit), Tyrone Farrugia, Mark Brincat, Manolito Micallef, Ryan Grech, Jonas Ekani Rodriguez, Armando Vieira dos Santos (74′ Ishmael Grech), Cristian Martins Fernandes, Yuri Messias de Oliveira (66′ Ricardo Silva Faria), Gianmarco Piccioni.
Subs not used: Kurt Rizzo, Giancarlo Sammut, Isaac Chircop, Kyle Frendo.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
RABAT Jonathan Azzopardi, Shaun Gauci, David Azzopardi, Ivan Carapic, Dylan Falzon, Clifford Gauci, Malcolm Licari (68′ Aidan Azzopardi)(93′ Zachary Tanti), Daniel Pelaez Bellido (77′ Joseph Caruana), Diego Carrillo Pendas, Moises Avila Perez, Jonathan Bajada.
Subs not used: Andrew Zammit, Darren Borg, Sacha Cortis, Etienne Scicluna.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Armando dos Santos, M. Brincat, D. Pelaez, I. Carapic
Scorers: 29′ Gianmarco Piccioni, 48′ Gianmarco Piccioni pen, 57′ Cristian Martins Fernandes pen, 69′ Cristian Martins Fernandes
BOV Player of the Match: Gianmarco Piccioni
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 351