Despite having a player sent off, Naxxar Lions scored twice in the final sixteen minutes to comeback from two goals down and hold Birkirkara in a 2-2 draw at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
A precious point for Clive Mizzi’s side in their battle against relegation while for Birkirkara, this was a highly disappointing result as they missed the opportunity to join Valletta on top the BOV Premier League table.
The Stripes had no less than five changes from the team which drew with Floriana as Marcelina Emerson, Liliu, Juan Quero, Cain Attard and Rowen Muscat replaced Nikola Vukanac, Gareth Sciberras, Fabrizio Miccoli and the suspended Joseph Zerafa and Paul Fenech. Ishmael Grech, David Fenech and Daren Falzon made way for Demba Toure, Mandinho and Richard Cardozo.
Birkirkara managed to take the lead five minutes from the end of the first half thanks to Ryan Scicluna, served by Vito Plut, who flicked the ball past goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi.
Two minutes later, the Stripes doubled the score thanks to Ellinton Antonio Costa Morais who placed the ball at the back of the net following a cross from the left by Juan Quero Barroso.
Ten minutes in the second half, Naxxar were reduced to ten men after Angus Buhagiar received a second yellow card for fouling Plut just outside the area.
The Lions reduced the gap on 76 minutes thanks to Demba Toure who took advantage of an erratic pass by a defender and beat Justin Haber with a fine shot from the right.
Five minutes later, Naxxar levelled matters when off a fine run on the left flank, Duane Bonnici’s effort was partially saved by the goalkeeper, Demba Toure’s attempt off the rebound was blocked by a defender and Richard Cardozo took the loose ball and with a low shot from outside the area, he placed the ball at the back of the net.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Blazo Rajovic, Andrew Scicluna, Demba Toure, Moise Zady Gnenegbe, Richard Carlos Cardozo, Sidoine Oussou (46′ David Fenech), Jurgen Debono (74′ Duane Bonnici), Angus Buhagiar, Emiliano Lattes (73′ Daren Falzon), Armando Tarlazis Vieira dos Santos.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Yaron Sammut, Mark Fenech, Nathan Alex Vella.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
B’KARA Justin Haber, Cain Attard (86′ Edward Herrera), Zach Muscat, Mauricio Mazzetti (64′ Gareth Sciberras), Ryan Camenzuli, Emerson Marcelina, Rowen Muscat, Ryan Scicluna, Ellinton Antonio Costa Morais, Vito Plut, Juan Quero Barroso (71′ Frank Temile).
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Nikola Vukanac, Kurt Zammit, Fabien Lufi.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
Referee: Sandro Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Thomas Debono
Additional Assistant Referees: Marco Borg, Stefan Pace
Fourth Official: Luke Portelli
Yellow Cards: Buhagiar, Mandinho, Gnenegbe, Scicluna
Red Cards: 55′ Angus Buhagiar
Scorers: 40′ Ryan Scicluna, 43′ Ellinton Antonio Costa Morais, 76′ Demba Toure, 80′ Richard Cardozo
BOV Player of the Match: Marcelina Emerson