El Hasni 70
Cabrera 73, Alves 88
G. Kitanov-6.5, A. Magri Overend-5.5 (89 J. Scicluna), O. El Hansi-6.5, Z. Cassar-5.5, M. Veselji-6 (75 A. Garzia), K. Reid-6.5, U. Arias-6.5, M. Garcia-5.5 (58 J. Busuttil), L. De Grazia-6, L. Trillo-6 (75 A. Ciolacu), E. Callegari-5.5.
G. Nava-6, O. Iorio-6.5 (82 D. Pires), E. Pepe-6, Y. Yankam-5.5, P. Mbong-6 (60 K. Zammit), M. Fedele-6 (60 A. Da Paixao), C. Attard-6, E. Cabrera-6.5 (82 J. Valletta), S. Zibo-6, A. Coppola-6, K. Tulimieri.
Referee: Fyodor Zammit.
Yellow cards: Garcia, Reid, Coppola, Tulimieri, Cabrera, El Hasni, Nava.
Red card: K. Tulimieri (B) 51.
BOV Player of the Match: Kemar Reid (Floriana).
Despite playing for almost the whole of the second half in ten men, Birkirkara came from behind to beat Floriana 2-1.
The Stripes, therefore, move second one point ahead of Hibernians and two ahead of Gżira United but the Maroons have a game in hand.
This was Birkirkara’s fourth win in five league matches as they aim to retain an edge over the teams trailing leaders Ħamrun.
Making his debut for Birkirkara was Swiss midfielder Matteo Fedele following his move from Ħamrun Spartans. His inclusion was one of three changes from the team which defeated Nadur Youngsters in the Izibet FA Trophy as Giacomo Nava was back in goal and Kevin Tulimieri was back in the starting line-up.
Floriana, on the other hand, had two changes from the team which lost to Santa Lucia as Zachary Cassar and Matias Garcia were preferred to Owen Spiteri and Jan Busuttil.
In fact, following elimination from the FA Trophy, the Greens were eager to bounce back with a win in their bid to climb further up the table but this turned out to be another setback in their attempt.
Floriana held the initiative in the opening minutes and after six minutes, Kemar Reid had a close-range effort turned into a corner by Nava.
Three minutes later, a Mattia Veselji effort was parried by the Birkirkara goalkeeper.
On 20 minutes, Birkirkara had a good opportunity to take the lead when off a cross by Paul Mbong, Tulimieri headed the ball down but Enzo Cabrera failed to hit home from close range.
Lorenzo Trillo concluded a good run on the left flank for Floriana with an angled shot which was parried by Nava on 29 minutes.
Two minutes in the second half, Georgi Kitanov was called into action, saving partially a long-distance Simon Zibo effort, deflected by a defender, and off the rebound, Cabrera was unlucky to hit the upright.
Kitanov turned into a corner, attempts by Osvaldo Iorio and Cain Attard from outside the area before neutralising an attempt from close range by Iorio off a corner by Fedele on 49 minutes.
In a swift counter-attack for Floriana, Kemar Reid had a shot from inside the area blocked by the Birkirkara goalkeeper.
Birkirkara were reduced to ten men on 51 minutes as Tulimieri received a second yellow card for a reckless tackle on Garcia.
Floriana managed to break the deadlock on 70 minutes. Lorenzo De Grazia delivered a cross from the left and Oualid El Hasni hit home from close range.
However, their joy was short-lived as three minutes later, Birkirkara levelled matters. Cabrera received an assist on the left and with a great volley, he gave goalkeeper Kitanov no chance.
Ulises Arias tried his luck with a powerful drive which ended high for Floriana on 83 minutes.
However, Birkirkara notched the winner two minutes from time. Alex Alves concluded a good move with a powerful shot which was deflected by a defender to beat goalkeeper Kitanov.
In the dying minutes, Floriana pushed for the equaliser but they only managed to threaten the Stripes’ rearguard once with an Aleandro Garzia header off a cross by James Scicluna from the left.
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