SWIEQI UNITED 0
J. Xuereb; G. Zahra, A. Said, S. Farrugia, M. Sciberras (46 M. Cardona), A. Sultana, R. Giusti, Y. Bajada, C. Zammit, S. Saliba, P. Lamanna.
J. Attard; J. Dimech, D. Theuma, J. Flask (69 C. Ellul), E. Xuereb (86 I. Mifsud), F. Peinado, S. Zammit, M. Cachia (69 A. Busuttil), J. Schembri, T. Falzon, A. Espitia.
Referee Gerard Zammit.
A stupendous goal by Canadian forward Patricia Lamanna and two late goals from Raina Giusti and Sara Saliba handed Birkirkara the women’s cup to secure a domestic double after beating Swieqi United in the final.
Birkirkara continued to stamp their dominance in this competition as this was their 16th cup triumph in their history. Moreover, they have now won the last four editions of this competition.
For the Owls, this was their first ever appearance in the cup final and produced a dominant 45 minutes in the first half. Yet, Birkirkara were the ones that put their hands on this trophy to follow up to their 10th domestic championship in style.
The Stripes had to do without attacking midfielder Tracy Teuma but coach Melania Bajada could still bank on her experienced players including goalkeeper Janice Xuereb who returned to the starting formation after an absence of over three months.
The Owls, on their part, fielded their strongest formation with young midfielder Michaela Cachia given the nod alongside experienced tandem Dorianne Theuma and Shona Zammit.
After a pulsating start to the match with no chances, Swieqi United created the first noteworthy action of the final with a Jade Flask header from close-range that went inches wide.
Moments later, Swieqi almost forged ahead when a Flask cross was almost diverted into her own net by Birkirkara’s Charlene Zammit.
Birkirkara replied through Patricia Lamanna who fired wide from close-range before Flask had a volley blocked by goalkeeper Janice Xuereb as both teams ended the first half in a goalless stalemate.
After the interval, it was Birkirkara who came out the strongest from the dug out. They managed to draw first blood in the 55th minute when Patricia Lamanna produced a delightful overhead kick which stunned Swieqi United goalkeeper Jodie Attard.
Birkirkara were now in control of the game as they pegged Swieqi into their own half in search of a second to potentially seal the win.
Young player Sara Saliba tried her luck from long distance just to see her effort go wide as the Stripes continued to pile the pressure.
Swieqi replied with two substitutions as coach Billy Mock deployed wingback Chloe Ellul and midfielder Amy Busuttil into the mix.
Ellul and Dorianne Theuma tried to level terms for the Owls but their efforts were in vain as Birkirkara’s resilience proved tough to beat.
In the closing stages, Swieqi tried to inch their way up the field but it was Birkirkara that found the net, twice. First, Giusti fired a strike that beat goalkeeper Attard from outside the penalty area before Saliba capitalised from close-range to wrap up Birkirkara’s three-goal win.
Photo: Birkirkara FC