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FA Trophy

Floriana late goals set up semi with Hibernians

Floriana are through to the IZIBET FA Trophy semifinals. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

FLORIANA             3

Reid 54

Ciolacu 84

Busuttil 85

BIRKIRKARA       1

Yankam 65

FLORIANA G. Kitanov; A. Magri Overend (89 A. Garzia0, C. Rutjens, O. El Hasni, Z. Cassar, K. Reid (89 K. Keqi), J. Arias (81 A. Ciolacu), M. Garcia, E. Callegari, J. Busuttil (89 M. Veselji), R. Camenzuli (81 B. Paiber).

BIRKIRKARA D. Fernandes; E. Ruiz, E. Pepe, Y. Yankam, L. Montebello, C. Bonanni, R. Scicluna, O. Carniello, L. Aguirre (88 F. Falcone), K. Bevis (88 P. Mbong), Jeferson.

Referee Philip Farrugia.

Yellow cards El Hasni, Carniello, Callegari, Garcia, Ruiz.

Two late goals send Floriana into the semi-finals of the Izibet FA Trophy after the Greens beat Birkirkara 3-1 in the quarter-finals of the domestic cup.

Gianluca Atzori’s team will face league leaders Hibernians in the final four which is pencilled for May 11.

Winter signing Kemar Reid put Floriana ahead in the second half – his fourth in six appearances for the Greens.

Their joy was cut short when Yannick Yankam made the most of Birkirkara’s pressure to level terms.

With six minutes left on the scoreboard, the match was destined for extra time but a Floriana blitz through Andrei Ciolacu and Jan Busuttil see the Greens progress.

Birkirkara, on the other hand, will rue their missed chances and their lack of concentration in the closing stages.

They will now have to roll their sleeves up in order to preserve their third position to ensure themselves European football next season.

Birkirkara produced the first chance of the game when in the 13th minute, Luke Montebello had an effort on goal that was for Floriana goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov.

Stripes’ midfielder Yannik Yankam met a Ryan Scicluna cross but he guided the ball over the bar.

Moments before the half-time whistle, Scicluna picked out Jeferson outside the edge of the area but the Brazilian forward sailed the ball wide from goal.

Floriana mustered their first opportunity of the game in stoppage time when Ryan Camenzuli was at the end of a well-engineered transition just to be denied by goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes.

Claudio Bonnani tested goalkeeper Kitanov with a long-range effort but was comfortably blocked after the interval.

However, it was Floriana who drew first blood. Kemar Reid dribbled past his markers inside the penalty area before firing past Fernandes from a tight angle.

Birkirkara’s reply was swift with a Leandro Aguirre’s volley that glanced past Kitanov’s goal.

The Stripes pushed for a leveller with Bonanni coming close with an effort that was deflected into corner by the Floriana players.

Andre Paus’ side made their pressure count when Yankam capitalised on an Aguirre’s low cross from point-blank range.

Floriana rarely threatened but whenever they stepped up a gear, they were dangerous and Rutjens came close with a towering header just to be denied by a superlative save from Fernandes. Busuttil doubled Floriana’s efforts with another close-range header from a tight angle but failed to hit the target.

The Greens grabbed the winning goal through substitute Andrei Ciolacu, who converted his first touch of the game into a brilliant low drive.

Atzori’s side made sure of the qualification when Busuttil pounced on a loose ball outside the penalty area and with a curling effort beat Fernandes.

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