Sirens came back from two goals down at half-time to beat Birkirkara 3-2 at the Centenary Stadium on Sunday to move third just three points behind the Stripes.
Following Hibernians’ 1-1 draw with Valletta, Birkirkara needed the three points in order to join the Paolites on top and things seemed heading in the right direction after Luke Montebello gave them a two-goal lead in the first half. However, in the second half, Sirens scored three to claim the three points, even despite the fact that they ended the game in nine men after having two players sent off.
Birkirkara took the lead on the 13th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Luke Montebello was pushed inside the area by Carlo Zammit Lonardelli and from the penalty spot, Montebello converted.
Six minutes from the end of the first half, Luke Montebello doubled the score with a rising shot following a cross by Paul Mbong, served on the right by Jeferson Macedo.
Sirens reduced the gap eight minutes in the second half thanks to Vitor Vieira who slammed the ball home following an assist by Fernando Javier Brandan from the right.
On the 72nd minute, Sirens equalised when Cain Attard brought Kemar Reid down inside the area following a good run by the Jamaican striker and from the penalty spot, Fernando Brandan made no mistake.
Two minutes later, Vitor Vieira sent Kemar Reid through and the latter advanced into the area and tested goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes who saved partially his attempt but the ball fell at the feet of the Jamaican striker who slotted past the Birkirkara goalkeeper.
On the 80th minute, Kemmu Degran Jackson was sent off for Sirens after receiving a second yellow card for time wasting after failing to leave the pitch immediately as he was about to be substituted and one minute from time, Kemar Reid also received a second yellow card for a foul and was therefore sent off.
SIRENS Sean Mintoff, Kemar Reid, Fernando Brandan (Jair Antonio Blanco Pardo 90+3′), Diego Albanese, Adrian Borg, Jacob Walker, Carlo Zammit Lonardelli, Alexander Cini, Carlos Riascos (Francis William Avoce 68’), Kemmu Degran Jackson, Vitor Vieira (Conor Borg 80’).
Coach: Winston Muscat
BIRKIRKARA Daniel Fernandes, Enrico Pepe, Luke Montebello, Claudio Bonanni (Kilian Bevis 85’), Paul Mbong (Yannick Yankam 85’), Kurt Zammit, Federico Falcone, Cain Attard, Oscar Carniello (Enzo Ruiz 46’), Leandro Aguirre, Jeferson Macedo.
Coach: Andre Paus
Referee: Daniel Portelli
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: O. Carniello, D. Jackson, L. Aguirre, C. Attard, K. Reid, S. Mintoff
Red Cards: 80′ Kemmu Degran Jackson, 89′ Kemar Reid
BOV Player of the Match: Luke Montebello