Aguirre 9, 90
GUDJA UNITED 0
D. Fernandes-6, E. Pepe-6, L. Montebello-6.5, P. Mbong-5 (46 E. Ruiz-), K. Zammit-6, F. Falcone-5 (39 C. Bonanni-6), R. Scicluna, C. Attard-6, O. Carniello-6, L. Aguirre-7, J. Macedo-6 (87 K.Bevis)
G. Zammit-6, L. Beland-6 (83 J. Dibola), A. Friggieri-6, R. Soares-6, L. Cremona-5.5, G. Mensah-5, H. Vella-5 (75 T. Gusman), J. Grioli-6 (62 R. Kisil-5), I. Dudarev, A. Temitope-5.5 (75 Y. Ito), M. Dias-4.
Referee Stefan Pace.
Yellow cards: Scicluna, Zammit, Vella, Fernandes, Dudarev.
Red cards: Scicluna (B) 35; Dudarev (G.) 90.
BOV Player of the match: Leandro Aguirre (Birkirkara).
Leandro Aguirre struck twice from a free-kick at either end of the match to give Birkirkara a 2-0 win over Gudja United to go top of the Premier League standings. But these goals hardly tell the story of a remarkable match.
After nine minutes, Llywelyn Cremona sent Paul Mbong crashing to end Birkirkara’s first serious venture towards the Gudja penalty area.
Former Valletta winger Aguirre hit a delightful right-foot strike beyond the wall and viciously away from Glenn Zammit’s despairing dive.
Luke Montebello’s powerful shot after 25 minutes was deflected over the bar by Rodolfo Soares who stood up bravely to block the Malta striker’s effort.
Two minutes later the ever-alert Zammit, impressively saved high to his right to keep out a rising shot from Aguirre.
Birkirkara looked comfortable against an underwhelming Gudja but Ryan Scicluna handed their opponents a lifeline when having already been booked, arrived late into a challenge on Igor Dudarev and was sent off.
That prompted a change for Birkirkara as Federico Falcone made way for Claudio Bonanni and though Gudja failed to create any chances until half-time, Birkirkara looked toothless upfront.
After the break, André Paus brought on Enzo Ruiz for Mbong as Birkirkara switched to 5-3-1 with Montebello deployed as a lone striker.
With Gudja now forced to reshuffle their pack and chase the game, the Stripes tried to punish their flat-out approach with quick counter-attacks.
On 66 minutes, Cain Attard came close to doubling their lead in the most spectacular of fashions as he went out of his defensive station, surged past three opponents before striking a shot that came off the post.
Six minutes later, Bonanni gave the illusion of goal as his free-kick flashed against the side-netting.
Five minutes from time, Thane Micallef brought on Junior Dibola to add more weight upfront but Dudarev then saw red after hauling down Montebello on his way to goal.
From the ensuing kick, Aguirre hit another swerving shot behind Zammit.