With a goal in each half, Birkirkara managed to beat Hibernians 2-0 at the National Stadium on Sunday. A major setback for the Paolites who were hoping to maintain a five-point lead before the final two games.
Hibs now lie just two points ahead of Balzan and six ahead of Valletta with Birkirkara moving to just one point behind the Citizens although the third place could mean nothing in particular after their application for a UEFA Licence was turned down by the Licensing Board.
The Stripes had two changes from the team which drew with Valletta as Miguel Angel Alba and Vito Plut replaced Cain Attard and Gonzalo Malan. On the other hand, for Hiberians, Dejan Boljevic was preferred to Johann Bezzina.
Birkirkara took the lead on the 12th minute thanks to Vito Plut who headed the ball home off a Miguel Angel Alba freekick from the left.
Clayton Failla was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a shot from outside the area on the 57th.
However on the 63rd minute, Nikola Vukanac doubled the score with another header, this time off a Srdjan Dimitrov corner from the right.
Two minutes later, the Stripes were reduced to ten men after Miguel Angel Alba received a second yellow card for a reckless tackle.
On the 82nd minute, Hibs could have reduced the gap but Clayton Failla’s powerful drive was tipped by Henry Bonello onto the crossbar and into a corner.
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B’KARA Henry Bonello, Edward Herrera, Christian Bubalovic, Gareth Sciberras, Mislav Andjelkovic, Matthew Guillaumier (54′ Ryan Scicluna), Nikola Vukanac, Joseph Zerafa, Miguel Angel Alba, Vito Plut (83′ Predrag Jovic), Srdjan Dimitrov (88′ Edmond Agius).
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Zachary Cassar, Neil Micallef, James Brincat.
Coach: Nikola Jaros
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Rodolfo Soares, Dejan Boljevic (70′ Johann Bezzina), Marcelo Dias, Jackson Lima, Clayton Failla, Bjorn Kristensen, Jorge Pereira da Silva, Jurgen Degabriele (81′ Momodou Jallow Salieu), Gilmar Ribeiro da Silva, Andrei Agius.
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Kieran Xuereb, Dunstan Vella, Connor Zammit, Daniel Buckle.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Refeees: Luke Portelli, Sammy Attard
Additional Assistant Referees: Stefan Pace, Eman Grech
Fourth Official: Alan Camilleri
Yellow Cards: Gilmar, Dias, Alba, Dimitrov, Zerafa, Bonello
Red Cards: 65′ Miguel Angel Alba
BOV Player of the Match: Gilmar Ribeiro da Silva