A controversial penalty twelve minutes from time gave Hibernians an important 1-0 win over Birkirkara at the National Stadium on Sunday as they move second, one point ahead of the Stripes and three behind leaders Balzan.
The two teams shared the exchanges throughout the ninety minutes and both had their fair share of scoring opportunities.
Hibernians lacked the injured Jonathan Pearson and the suspended Joseph Mbong. These were replaced by Clayton Failla and Juan Manuel Varea. For Birkirkara, Rowen Muscat replaced Mislav Andjelkovic.
On the 23rd minute, Birkirkara almost took the lead following a corner from the left by Dimitrov but three consecutive attempts by Christian Bubalovic, Cain Attard and Rowen Muscat were cleared off the goal line by the Hibs defence. On the other side of the pitch, a Jorginho header was parried with particular difficulty by Kopric on the 33rd.
The Paolites managed to break the deadlock on the 78th minute. Nikola Vukanac tackled Jorginho as the latter was about to enter the penalty area from the right. Referee Trustin Farrugia Cann ordered a penalty despite harsh protests by the Birkirkara players who argued that the player was tackled outside the area and from the penalty spot, Clayton Failla converted.[gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”random” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”28″]
B’KARA Miroslav Kopric, Christian Bubalovic, Gareth Sciberras, Rowen Muscat, Srdjan Dimitrov (79′ James Brincat), Vito Plut, Nikola Vukanac, Frank Temile, Joseph Zerafa (85′ Predrag Jovic), Cain Attard, Ryan Scicluna (70′ Shaun Bajada).
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Edward Herrera, Matthew Guillaumier, Steve Bonnici.
Coach: Drazen Besek
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Jackson de Lima Siqueira, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Dunstan Vella, Jorge da Silva Pereira (94′ Timothy Tabone Desira), Jurgen Degabriele (85′ Renan Pimenta Telles), Juan Manuel Varea (61′ Andrew Cohen), Andrei Agius.
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Daniel Buckle, Conner Zammit, Johann Bezzina.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Jurgen Spiteri, David Castillo
Fourth Official: Eman Grech
Yellow Cards: Bubalovic, Temile, Dimitrov, Zerafa
BOV Player of the Match: Jorge da Silva Pereira