M. Calleja Cremona-6.5, F. Apap-5, L. Almeida-6.5 (84 Z. Grech), A. Attard-6, J. Grech-6 (68 D. Vella), B. Kristensen-6, G. Artiles-6, S. Haruna-5 (52 J. Degabriele-5), A. Agius-6.5, J. Wilkson-5 (69 R. Winchester), K. Laukzemis-5.
S. Guarnone-6, E. Pepe-6, Y. Yankam-6, L. Montebello-6 (77 P. Mbong), K. Zammit-6, R. Alidor-7, F. Falcone-6, C. Attard-6.5, C. Bonanni-7, C. Prado-8 (90 F. Verde), O. Carniello-6.5.
Referee: Philip Farrugia.
Yellow cards Grech, Yankam, Kristensen, Agius, Vella.
BOV Player of the match Caio (Birkirkara).
A controversial goal from Claudio Bonanni earned Birkirkara another impressive victory as the Stripes edged leaders Hibernians in a hard-fought encounter at the National Stadium.
Bonanni lashed the ball home from close in after Luke Montebello’s penalty was partially saved by goalkeeper Matthew Calleja Cremona with the Paolites protesting in vain that the Italian midfielder was in the box when Montebello hit his penalty.
But apart from the controversial nature of the winner, the Stripes still fully deserved the points as they showed the better ideas and could have easily been out of sight should they had taken the chances they created.
The win enabled Birkirkara to keep climbing the standings as they are now seventh on 17 points.
On the other hand, Hibs struggled to create scoring chances despite their late bout of pressure and surely coach Stefano Sanderra will demand better for his players if they are to maintain their title charge.
Birkirkara enjoyed the upperhand during the first half.
In fact, the clock marked 18 minutes when from a Caio free-kick, Luke Montebello jumped above his marker, but his header finished just over.
Hibs responded two minutes later when Ayrton Attard saw his deflected shot finish just past the upright.
The stalemate was finally broked on 26 minutes when Cain Attard burst into the area and his cross-shot hit the arm of Hibs defender Ferdinando Apap with the referee immediately pointing to the spot.
Luke Montebello stepped up and his shot was blocked by Calleja Cremona but in came Claudio Bonanni who tapped home.
Here the Hibs players protested vehemently that the goal should have been ruled out as Bonanni entered inside the area before Montebello’s shot, but referee Philip Farrugia waved away their protests.
Caio came close to give Birkirkara a double advantage when on 39 minutes his shot was pushed away by Calleja Cremona.
Birkirkara had another golden opportunity to double their lead on 48 minutes when Reginald Alidor picked Yannick Yankam inside the area, but the young midfielder fired over.
Ten minutes later, the excellent Caio played Montebello clear and the lanky striker turned past Calleja Cremona, but his shot was deflected onto the post by the sliding Leandro Almeida who avoided a certain goal.
In the final 20 minutes, Hibernians tried to step up the pressure in search of an equaliser but for all their pressure they struggle to create scoring opportunities.
Instead it was Caio who who almost grabbed a second when he turned past Calleja Cremona but his shot was cleared away by Agius.