ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 0
G. Nava, O. Iorio, D. Pires, Y. Yankam, P. Mbong (82’ J. Valletta), K. Zammit, M. Fedele (88’ K. Tulimieri), C. Attard, E. Cabrera (82’ A. Ciolacu), S. Zibo, D. Ribeiro.
H. Bonello, Ederson (63 J. Mbong), S. Borg, M. Guillaumier, E. Mashike, R. Prsa (76 L. Montebello), O. Bjelicic, J. Corbalan, Jonny (76 K. Holmberg), E. Marcelina, R. Camenzuli.
Referee: Ishmael Barbara.
Yellow Cards: Ribeiro, Prsa, Cabrera, Iorio, Bjelicic, Nava, Camenzuli.
A goal by Enzo Cabrera was enough for Birkirkara to eliminate BOV Premier League leaders Ħamrun Spartans and book a place in the semi-finals of the IZIBET FA Trophy.
After two goalless draws in the two Premier League matches, Ħamrun knew that it would have been another difficult game and at the end of the 90 minutes, it was Giovanni Tedesco’s side which prevailed.
Birkirkara, therefore, remain in the run to win the second most important honour in local football while the Spartans, who are just weeks away from winning the title, miss out on the opportunity of staying on track for a possible double.
The Spartans had one change from last week’s clash as Ederson was preferred to Joseph Mbong.
Birkirkara, on the other hand, welcomed back Cabrera and had Diego Pires Dall’Oca named in the starting line-up as they replaced Alex Alves and the suspended Alessandro Coppola.
After a rather tense start, following a foul by Denis Ribeiro on Matthew Guillaumier after hardly two minutes, which sparked a clash between the two sets of players, Birkirkara had a first attempt at goal on 16 minutes.
A powerful drive by Diego Pires Dall’Oca was blocked by Bonello.
One minute later, the Stripes forged ahead. Paul Mbong concluded a good run on the right flank with an assist for Cabrera who hit hard past the Ħamrun goalkeeper.
The Spartans replied with a Roko Prsa free-kick which ended just wide on 27 minutes.
A minute later, the Croatian midfielder served Elvis Mashike on the right, but the latter hit wide.
On 37 minutes, Emerson Marcelina headed high off an Ederson corner from the left.
However, two minutes in stoppage time, Birkirkara could have easily gone two goals ahead when Cabrera sent Mbong through but the latter hit wide from close range.
Two minutes in the second half, the Stripes threatened once again when off a Ribeiro corner from the left, Osvaldo Iorio’s first-time effort ended just over the bar.
Ħamrun started to push harder for the equaliser but were finding it difficult to penetrate the well-organised Birkirkara rear-guard. On 63 minutes, Juan Corbalan, served on the right, controlled the ball, and hit low but Nava saved his attempt. On 73 minutes, off a corner by Bjelicic, Emerson Marcelina had a close-range header blocked into another corner.
The Spartans maintained the pressure and one minute in added time, the Birkirkara custodian performed a good save on an Ognjen Bjelicic freekick from the left.
But it was not over yet as five minutes in added time, following a swift counter-attack, Bjelicic had one final opportunity to level matters but Kurt Zammit came to the rescue blocking his fine shot on the goal-line.
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