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BOV Premier League

Birkirkara held by Gżira United

Gżira United's Nevin Portelli (left) is challenged by Leandro Aguirre. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

GŻIRA UNITED              1

Jefferson 8

BIRKIRKARA    1

Cosic 56og

Gżira United

D. Zarkov-6, G. Bohrer-6, M. Cosic-6, L. Tabone-6.5, Z. Scerri-6, T. Kolega-6.5, Y. Messias-6, A. Pavic-6 (70 C. Gauci), N. Portelli-6 (75 J.P. Attard), Jefferson-6.5.

Birkirkara

D. Fernandes-7, E. Ruiz-6, E. Pepe, L. Montebello, P. Mbong-5 (64 J. Nsumoh), K. Zammit, R. Scicluna, L. Aguirre, K. Bevis, J. Macedo-5 (84 Y. Yankam), D. Venancio-5 (46 C. Bonanni).

Referee: Fyodor Zammit.

Yellow cards Pepe, Portelli, Muscat, Bonanni.

Red card: Pepe (Birkirkara).

BOV Player of the match Jefferson (Gżira United).

Birkirkara and Gżira United cancelled each other in a 1-1 draw, a result that did little to enhance their hopes of a top-three finish this season.

Both teams were looking for all three points that would boost their hopes of securing third place in the standings.

It looked as though Gżira United were set to upset the Stripes when taking the lead in a first half where they held the edge over their opponents.

But Birkirkara improved considerably after the break and after restoring parity they had enough chances to win it but could not find a second goal and in the end the stalemate prevailed.

Birkirkara were off to a strong start and almost took the lead after three minutes. Kylian Bevis found Paul Mbong who quickly sent a vertical throughball towards Luke Montebello who tried to slid the ball past Darijan Zarkov but Luke Tabone did well to clear the ball before it passed the goalline.

But it was Gżira who took the lead five minutes later when Yuri Messias cross was met by Gabriel Bohrer who saw his header brilliantly palmed away by Daniel Fernandes but in came Jefferson who headed home.

The match was a lively affair and on 13 minutes Montebello had another good opportunity when he raced to meet Diego Venancio’s throughball but his effort drifted just past the upright.

Four minutes later, Antonio Pavic raced clear on the right and sent a cross towards Toni Kolega who saw his shot blocked in style by Daniel Fernandes.

After that bright start, the match fell in a lull as scoring chances were few and far between with Birkirkara showing little signs of a threat to the Gżira defence.

The Stripes finally threatened on 35 minutes but Venancio’s strike from a free-kick was easily saved by Zarkov.

Five minutes from the break, Jefferson raced clear to meet Nikolai Muscat’s pass but was anticipated by Fernandes.

Birkirkara looked more determined after the break and they managed to draw level on 56 minutes.

From an Aguirre corner-kick, Cosic, in a bid to anticipate Pepe, headed the ball into his own net.

Gżira responded on 62 minutes but Toni Kolega’s curling drive flashed just wide.

Birkirkara were now stepping up their efforts to grab a winner and on 73 minutes they should have scored.

Aguirre fed Montebello who was found in space but the Birkirkara striker was denied by Zarkov.

Seven minutes from time, Montebello played in Bevis who, however, fired wide.

Birkirkara ended with ten men when Pepe was dismissed after a second bookable offence.

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