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BOV Premier League

Rampant Birkirkara hit Żebbuġ Rangers for five

BIRKIRKARA 5

Alves 18, Cabrera 21 pen 24

Attard 29, Mbong 66

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS 0

BIRKIRKARA

G.Nava-6, O.Iorio-6 (46 N. Micallef-5.5), E. Pepe-6 (62 M. Gambin), A. Alves-7 (74 K. Tulimieri), Y. Yankam-6, P. Mbong-6 (72 D. Ribeiro), K. Zammit-6, C. Attard-7, E. Cabrera-6.5 (72 J.P. Farrugia), S. Zibo-5.5, A. Coppola-6.

ŻEBBUĠ RANGERS

J. Azzopardi-4, H. Motta-4, S. Bugeja-5 (70 Wilker), L. Almeida-5, C. Lokoli Ngoy-4, R. Sanchez-5, R. Vella-4  (40 T. Bartolo-5), Jeferson-5 (70 J. Sciberras), A. Soto Maldonado-4 (40 A. Mizzi-4), S. Miloskovic-4 (40 S. Jankovic-5), J. Gesualdi-4.

Referee: Matthew De Gabriele.

Yellow cards Almeida, Motta.

BOV man of the match: Alex Alves (Birkirkara).

Birkirkara rediscovered their scoring touch to return to winning ways with a comfortable win over lowly Żebbuġ Rangers.

The Stripes have now climbed to third place, just one behind second-placed Gżira United

Osvaldo Iorio took up a midfield position on the right side of the central station occupied by Yannick Yankam as Simon Zibo offered cover to the defence.

This tactical switch allowed Cain Attard to return to the right flank and Kurt Zammit filled in at left-back.

Brian Spiteri, the Żebbuġ coach, set his mind on a 5-3-1-1 deployment in which Jeferson figured wide on the left side of midfield and Charles Lokoli Ngoy was left to often plough a lonely furrow upfront.

The early exchanges were bereft of constructive football as the two sides struggled to find their passing range.

But the Stripes enjoyed a distinct edge, possession-wise, but their efforts were undone by their final pass accuracy.

Gradually, Birkirkara clicked into gear and on 17 minutes, Enzo Cabrera outsprinted Jamie Azzopardi, who was out of position on the right flank and squared towards Alex Alves who prodded home.

Birkirkara sensed they could sway the balance in their favour if they kept exploiting the quick counters from the Argentine striker, very often on the end of inviting balls from the industrious Yankam and Paul Mbong. This left Żebbuġ vulnerable on their right flank.

When three minutes later, Żebbuġ defender Joseph Gesualdi tackled Cabrera inside the area, it was judged to be illegal by the referee. Cabrera picked himself up to send Azzopardi the wrong side. 

On 24 minutes Mbong squared for Cabrera who sweetly struck home from the edge of the box, beating Azzopardi at his near post.

Birkirkara made it 4-0 inside the first half an hour, when Zibo served Attard on the right before he went on a mazy run past a couple of opponents before delivering a low angled shot past Azzopardi. A goal of rare quality.

Spiteri made a triple substitution five minutes before the break but there was no way back for Żebbuġ.

On 66 minutes, Alves broke free on the right and his low cross was cut out Leandro Almeida and found Mbong who hit a swerving shot behind Azzopardi.

It was then left to Cabrera, Alves and Mbong to revel in the applause when they were brought off with the Stripes coasting to a comfortable victory.

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