Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao was the hero for Birkirkara as he scored four in an impressive 7-1 win over Naxxar Lions to keep marching on at the top of the BOV Premier League table.
For the Stripes, this was the twelfth consecutive win which keeps them six points ahead of second-placed Valletta.
Naxxar lacked Pablo Doffo and Victor Bellia but had two new players in squad – Serbian midfielders Filip Stojanovic and Milan Vignevic but the latter was retained on the substitute bench. Birkirkara, on the other hand, lacked Rowen Muscat.
On the 4th, Shola Shodiya headed high off a cross by Edward Herrera and nine minutes later, the Nigerian striker shot incredibly high off a direct freekick.
Birkirkara took the lead on the 18th when Frank Temile serves Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao on the right and the latter dribbled past a Naxxar defender and placed the ball at the back of the net.
Jhonnattan exchanged the ball with Haruna Shola Shodiya on 25 minutes but the former’s effort ending just high.
However on 37 minutes, Birkirkara doubled the score. Jhonnattann served Shola Shodiya who released Ryan Scicluna, hitting home from close range.
The Stripes went three goals ahead nine minutes in the second half when off an Edward Herrera freekick from the right, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo headed tha ball home.
Four minutes later, Haruna Shola Shodiya’s powerful shot from outside the penalty box rocketed into the goalpost and beat Julian Azzopardi for the Stripes’ fourth goal.
On 61 minutes, Birkirkara added another as Jhonnattann dribbled past a Naxxar defender inside the area and his low fierce shot ended into the net.
Naxxar pulled one back on 69 minutes when off a cross by Angus Buhagiar to the centre, Terence Scerri took advantage of substitute goalkeeper Reuben Gauci’s slip and headed into an empty net.
However Birkirkara made it 6-1 on 74 minutes when off a Paul Fenech freekick, Nikola Vukanac headed the ball into the direction of Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao whose first timer gave the Naxxar goalkeeper no chance.
Jhonnattan Benites da Conceicao scored his fourth goal and the seventh for Birkirkara two minutes later thanks to a rising shot from the edge of the area following a good solo effort.
BIRKIRKARA Justin Haber (68’ Reuben Gauci), Joseph Zerafa, Alejandro Mendoza, Nikola Vukanac (76’ Zach Muscat), Jhonnattann Benites, Gareth Sciberras, Frank Temile (72’ Ryan Camenzuli), Ryan Scicluna, Haruna Shola Shodiya, Paul Fenech Edward Herrera.
Subs not used: Leon Muscat, Daniel Zerafa, Terence Vella, Demba Toure.
Coach: Paul Zammit
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Angus Buhagiar, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Gilmar Da Silva Ribeiro, Andrew Decesare, Mattia Del Negro, Thiago Lopes de Souza (76’ Milan Vignevic), David Alejandro Reano, Andre Rocha Da Silva, Terrence Scerri (74’ Daren Falzon), Filip Stojanovic.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Duane Bonnici, John Debono, Jurgen Debono, Yaron Sammut.
Coach: Winston Muscat
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: F. Stojanovic, F. Temile, M. Del Negro
Scorers: 18’ Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, 37’ Ryan Scicluna, 54’ Alejandro Mendoza, 58’ Shodiya Haruna Shola, 61’ Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, 69’ Terrence Scerri (N), 74’ Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, 76’ Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao
BOV Player of the Match: Jhonnattann Benites
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 1034
Valletta returned to winning ways as they beat Vittoriosa Stars 4-0.
Vittoriosa had Italian defender Federico Santaguida making his debut after joining the club from Qormi. Valletta, on the other hand, could not field their best formation due to the absence of Luke Dimech, Jason Vandelannoite and Lateef Elford-Alliyu.
Valletta managed to take the lead on 26 minutes when off a cross by Shaun Bajada from the left, Abdelkarim Nafti headed home past Sean Cini.
Two minutes later, the Citizens doubled the score through Edmond Agius who received a pass from the right and beat the Vittoriosa goalkeeper with a low shot from inside the area.
The Citizens increased the lead on 78 minutes thanks to Denni Rocha dos Santos who managed to beat Cini with a shot from the edge of the area.
Roderick Briffa was unlucky to hit the upright with a fine shot from inside the area when served by Mifsud Triganza four minutes later.
Aziz Corr Nyang made it 4-0 six minutes from time, heading the ball home off an inviting cross by Mifsud Triganza.
VITTORIOSA Sean Cini, Luke Vella Critien (68′ Clive Brincat), Ousmane Sidibe, Malcolm Buttigieg, Marcelo Pereira, Michael Camilleri, Siraj Arab Eddin (52′ Gilbert Martin), David Garcia Mitogo (68′ Federico Santaguida), Sammir Arab, Oscar Dario Guerrero, Jose Filipe Aguiar
Subs not used: Lawrence Cauchi, Justin Camilleri, Clive Spiteri, Ryan Mifsud.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
VALLETTA Pietro Marino, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ryan Fenech, Edmond Agius, Ian Zammit (75′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Roderick Briffa, Hamza Barry, Shaun Bajada, Denni Rocha dos Santos (80′ Llywelyn Cremona), Abdelkarim Nafti (69′ Aziz Corr Nyang).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Ian Azzopardi, Oscar Reyes Sanchez, Luke Scicluna.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Jurgen Spiteri
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Barry, Camilleri, Martin
Scorers: 26′ Abdelkarim Nafti, 28′ Edmond Agius, 78′ Denni Rocha dos Santos, 84′ Aziz Corr Nyang
BOV Player of the Match: Denni Rocha dos Santos
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium 679