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Clinical Sirens stun Birkirkara

Sirens edged Birkirkara for their fourth win of the season. Photo: Christine Borg

SIRENS 1

Marcelo 36

BIRKIRKARA 0

SIRENS M. Grech-7, G. Camilleri-6, M. Pereira-7, K. Sano-6.5, R. Tachikawa-6.5 (83 A. Borg), J. Walker-6, A. Vaikainah-6, A. Cini-7, V. Bento-6 (88 S. Sessegnon), I. Kolev-6 (70 D. Jackson), G. Fernandes Ventura-8.

BIRKIRKARA G. Nava-6, O. Iorio-5 (63 D. Pires), E. Pepe-5, A. Alves-5 (75 J.P. Farrugia), Y. Yankam-6, P. Mbong-6.5, C. Attard-5, E. Cabrera-5, S. Zibo-5.5 (63 D. Ribeiro), A. Coppola-5 K. Tulimieri-5.5.

Referee Emanuel Grech.

Yellow cards Iorio, Coppola, Fernandes.

BOV player of the match Gabriel Fernandes Ventura (Sirens).

Marcelo handed Sirens an early Christmas present to put the brakes on Birkirkara’s recent resurgence with the winner at the Tony Bezzina Stadium on Friday.

The Portuguese defender struck from a direct free-kick in the first half and the goal proved enough to send the Stripes down to a first defeat in five games.

Outplayed in the first half-hour, the Northerners hit back just before half-time and Marcelo’s winner proved the difference.

Sirens are now in excellent form to banish their poor start to the season with four wins from their last five league games, letting in just one goal in the process.

Birkirkara had quickly found their rhythm with Kevin Tulimieri hitting a rising shot which was tipped over by Matthew Grech.

In a frenetic opening passage of play, Paul Mbong provided an attacking impetus for the Stripes.

Mbong played on the left-hand side of a four-man midfield diamond in their 4-1-3-2 formation with Tulimieri to his right, Simon Zibo behind them, and Yannick Yankam at the top.

Birkirkara’s industry had Sirens rattled as the Northerners were afforded very little time on the ball.

On 16 minutes, a well-taken freekick by Alessandro Coppola was brilliantly kept out by Grech.

One minute later, the woodwork came to Sirens’ rescue from Yankam’s header as Giovanni Tedesco’s boys were constantly pounding on the opponents’ goal.

Sirens responded in the best possible way in the 22nd minute when Ivan Kolev hit a low drive which was saved into a corner by Giacomo Nava.

When Coppola sent Kei Sano crashing to the floor to end Sirens’ venture towards the Stripes penalty area, Marcelo extracted a clinical retribution with a wicked freekick to leave Nava stranded on 36 minutes.

The second half saw Birkirkara pour forward from the first whistle, Mbong taking charge of the midfield and threatening Grech’s goal on 52 minutes with a low shot.

Birkirkara gradually became edgy as they struggled to score the equaliser with coach Tedesco being dismissed for persistent dissent.

But Sirens had their chances when Rei Tachikawa hit the crossbar with a swerving shot after good work from Alexander Cini.

Four minutes from time, the Japanese midfielder wasted a golden opportunity to seal the points when he elected to shoot from an angled position rather than squaring for the unmarked Degran Jackson.

In stoppage time, Mbong went close with an inswinging corner that was pushed over the bar by Grech.

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