Carniello 75, Valletta 88
SANTA LUCIA 3
Prates 22; Pisani 54p, Fonesca 63
A. Sylla-4, E. Pepe-4, L. Montebello-4, K. Zammit-5, R. Scicluna-5 (78 F. Falcone), C. Attard-5, B. Ngissah-4 (60 Y. Yankam-5), O. Carniello-5 (90 P. Mbong), L. Aguirre-6, K. Bevis-4 (77 J.Valletta), J. Macedo-5.
J. Haber-6, A. Prates-7, J. Pisani-6, N. Pulis-6, G. Conti-7, P. Mota-8, V. Pluto-7, D.Valpoort-5.5 (80 J. Tanti), V. Filho-6.5, D. Xuereb-6.5, L. Fonesca-6.
Referee: Ishmael Barbara.
Yellow cards: Ngissah, Pepe, Montebello, Fonesca, Attard, Aguirre, Mota, Xuereb.
BOV player of the match: Patrick Mota Silva (Santa Lucia).
Santa Lucia kept alive their hopes of Premier League survival with an impressive victory over Birkirkara.
Giovanni Tedesco’s side were a cut above their opponents for the majority of the match but the wounded Stripes played the final minutes with renewed vigour to change the complexion of the game.
Their spirited fightback frightened the life out of Santa Lucia as two goals in the space of 13 minutes brought Birkirkara within reach.
But the Saints held on to make an incredible double on their more-quoted opponents.
Birkirkara dominated the early exchanges, but it was Santa Lucia who came closest to scoring on 15 minutes.
Dexter Xuereb blocked brillianty near his own penalty area to deny Leandro Aguirre to send Vito Plut on a brilliant run from the halfway line.
Then, Slovenian striker laid the ball into space for Victor Filho but the Brazilian’s effort was hooked off the line by Oscar Carniello.
After some excellent interplay with Gianmarco Conti, Plut then set up Jurgen Pisani but the former Floriana defender failed to get enough purchase on his effort and Amara Sylla blocked his shot.
From the ensuing corner, André Prates showed Pisani how to finish when he headed home a Patrick Mota cross with the Birkirkara defence in disarray.
Birkirkara immediately went on the offensive, and Aguirre unleashed a fierce drive that was pushed away by Justin Haber into the path of Luke Montebello who blazed his shot over.
Santa Lucia grabbed the second nine minutes after the break, making the most of defence mix-up when Mota was sent clear of a static defence.
Enrico Pepe tried to recover his position, but went sliding on the Brazilian midifielder inside the area. From the ensuing penalty, Pisani sent Syilla the wrong way.
There appeared little danger when Yoel Soares Fonesca hit a freekick straight at Sylla from 30 metres out on 63 minutes. But somehow Sylla missed the ball and it slipped through his grasp and over the line.
With 15 minutes left, Birkirkara came back into the game when Oscar Carniello headed the ball home following Aguirre’s well-taken freekick.
Santa Lucia now limited their forays to occasional bursts forward and Filho pulled the ball to Pisani who shot into the side-netting, wasting a glorious opportunity.
That left the door open for Birkirkara who pulled a second goal back when substitute Jed Valletta drove the ball low past Haber after a goal-mouth scramble.
Birkirkara threw caution to the win in search of an equaliser but Sta Lucia held on for the win.