Birkirkara claimed the first major honour for season 2014/15 as they defeated champions Valletta 2-1 in the BOV Super Cup final on Friday to register their seventh success in the competition.
The Stripes were a better side during the first half, taking the lead and going close to increasing the lead but Valletta showed better ideas early in the second half and equalised. However Birkirkara regained the lead and kept their opponents under control in the remaining minutes to secure victory.
Birkirkara lacked the suspended Paul Fenech while Gareth Sciberras was retained on the bench as he recovers from an injury. However they had Eliandro dos Santos Gonzaga and Ellinton Costa Morais making their first appearance as the other two new signings Rafael Ledesma and Edmond Agius had already turned out for the Stripes in the UEFA Europa League matches.
Roderick Briffa, on the other hand, was missing for Valletta. After missing the UEFA Champions League qualifiers due to an injury, Maltese-Australian winger Adrian Zahra made his debut for the Citizens as Ryan Camilleri, Hugo Faria and Raphael Kooh Sohna had already made their official debut.
The Citizens had the first attempt at goal on the 8th minute but Adrian Zahra headed just wide off a cross by Abdelkarim Nafti from the right. Birkirkara replied with a Rafael Ledesma effort which was deflected to to a corner. From the resulting corner, Alejandro Mendoza headed high.
The Stripes managed to take the lead on the 16th when off a cross by Ryan Scicluna from the right, Rafael Ledesma intelligently served Eliandro dos Santos Gonzaga whose low shot from outside the area beat goalkeeper Yenz Cini.
Five minutes later, Eliandro almost doubled the score when he intercepted an erratic pass by Caruana and advanced into the area; the ball was somehow blocked by Cini and Caruana with the Birkirkara striker’s final attempt ending wide.
On the 41st, Birkirkara missed another excellent opportunity as Eliandro Gonzaga released Joseph Zerafa on the left and the latter served the unmarked a Rafael Ledesma who however hit incredibly wide. A few seconds later, Cini saved with particular difficulty an Eliandro Gonzaga header on the goal line following a cross from the left by Zerafa.
Valletta captain Ryan Fenech tried his luck with a powerful shot from outside the area ending just over the bar two minutes in the second half.
The Citizens however managed to equalise on the 57th when off a freekick by Abdelkarim Nafti from the left, Jonathan Caruana headed home past goalkeeper Justin Haber.
The champions now gained confidence and went close with a Ryan Fenech long-distance effort which scraped past the post and then with a Shaun Bajada rising shot which ended just over the bar.
However Birkirkara regained the lead on 69 minutes when off a cross by substitute Ryan Camenzuli from the left, Edward Herrera was left all alone on the right flank to slam the ball home.
Justin Haber performed a good save on a Shaun Bajada effort on 76 minutes, turning the ball into a corner. A minute later, an Ellford Alliyu conclusion was deflected into a corner and from the resulting corner, a header by Kooh Sohna ended just wide off a corner by Nafti.
MFA General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo and Bank of Valletta CEO Charles Borg presented the cup to Birkirkara captain Joseph Zerafa.
VALLETTA Yenz Cini, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Ryan Camilleri, Ryan Fenech (87′ Ian Zammit), Hugo Faria, Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Shaun Bajada, Adrian Zahra (59′ Raphael Alain Kooh Sohna), Abdelkarim Nafti (81′ Luke Montebello), Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Steve Borg, Llywelyn Cremona, Christian Caruana.
Coach: Gilbert Agius
B’KARA Justin Haber, Matheus Bissi da Silva, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Nikola Vukanac, Rafael Pompeo Rodrigues Ledesma (89′ Leighton Grech), Eliandro dos Santos Gonzaga (68′ Ellinton Antonio Costa Morais), Joseph Zerafa (66′ Ryan Camenzuli), Zach Muscat, Ryan Scicluna, Edward Herrera, Edmond Agius.
Subs not used: Justin Tonna, Antoine Borg, Gareth Sciberras, Leighton Grech, Kurt Zammit.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Peter Abela
Additional Assistant Referees: Adrian Azzopardi, Fyodor Zammit
Fourth Official: Luke Portelli
Yellow cards: Hugo Faria, Luke Dimech, Ryan Scicluna
Scorers: 16′ Eliandro dos Santos Gonzaga, 57′ Jonathan Caruana, 69′ Edward Herrera