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BOV Premier League

Serrano strikes at the death as Marsaxlokk stun Birkirkara

Yannick Yankam (right) charges forward for Birkirkara. Photo: Domenic Borg

MARSAXLOKK 1

Serrano 90

BIRKIRKARA 0

MARSAXLOKK

M. Drobnjak-6, A. Attard-6 (67 Wellington), K. Keqi-6, O. Serrano-7, P. Xuereb-6.5 (87 C. Edafe), A. Ferraris-7, J. Aguilar, L. Aguirre-7.5, D. Vukovic-7, D. Agius-5.5 (46 E. Vella-6), T. Fonseca-6 (90 A. Effiong).

BIRKIRKARA

G. Nava-5, E. Pepe-5, A. Alves-6 (77 C. Ribeiro-6), Y. Yankam-6.5, P. Mbong-5, K. Zammit-5, C. Attard-5, D. Cabrera-5 (62 F. Falcone), S. Zibo-5, A. Coppola, K. Tulimieri-5 (54 O. Iorio-6).

Referee: Stefan Pace.

Yellow cards: Pepe, Nava, Attard, Aguilar, Yankam, Keqi, Aguirre, Serrano

Red cards: Aguilar (M) 45; Coppola (B) 51.

BOV player of the match: Leandro Aguirre (Marsaxlokk)

Marsaxlokk defender Walter Serrano decided a game that looked destined for stalemate with a powerful strike in the second minute of stoppage time after a superb square pass by substitute Wellington de Sousa.

This was a heartbreaking defeat for Birkirkara who succumbed to their first defeat as they lost ground on Premier League leaders Ħamrun Spartans.

Coach Pablo Doffo confirmed the starting XI that beat Gudja United in the previous outing while Birkirkara mentor Giovanni Tedesco made one change from the team that held Ħamrun Spartans as Paul Mbong was preferred to Osvaldo Iorio.

It was a surprisingly lacklustre opening half from Birkirkara – and they could count themselves fortunate to go in level at the interval.

On 37 minutes, Leandro Aguirre won a challenge on Cain Attard before delivering an inviting cross from the left as Ayrton Attard leapt to direct a glancing header behind Giacomo Nava, but his effort went agonisingly wide.

Yet, Juan Cruz Aguilar’s challenge on Yannick Yankam just outside the area looked destined to be the most noteworthy event of a fairly lacklustre first half.

Just before the end of the first half, Yankam combined well with Daniel Cabrera before going through a crowd of players but he was clipped from behind by the Argentine midfielder. Aguilar was shown the second yellow card and sent off, infuriating the Marsaxlokk players.

At half-time, Marsaxlokk tried to cover themselves when Doffo roped in Emerson Vella for the offensive-minded Daniel Agius.

But their numerical handicap did not last long.

On 51 minutes, Alessandro Coppola’s reckless challenge on Tiago Fonseca prompted the referee to produce a straight red card.

Six minutes later, Marko Drobnjak was called into serious action when Mbong broke through on goal with only the keeper to beat but the Serbian did well to get down and block his shot.

Despite now looking more dangerous, Birkirkara were still vulnerable at the back. Fonseca dragged his effort wide after a maze-like run on the left wing.

The Stripes grew in confidence and an exquisite touch from substitute Denis Ribeiro almost played Yankam in on 84 minutes.

On 90 minutes, Kristian Keqi was guilty of wasting a golden chance when he shot wide from close range.

But Marsaxlokk were not to be denied, as Serrano stunned Birkirkara with a close-range shot to secure a stunning win.

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