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Birkirkara hand Hibernians heavy defeat, move second

Birkirkara's Andrei Ciolacu pushes the ball forward against Hibernians. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli


Ciolacu 4

Coppola 21

Mbong 27, 38



A.Sylla-6; O. Iorio-6, Y. Yankam-7, P. Mbong-7 (80 K. Fenech), K. Zammit-7, C. Attard-6, E. Cabrera-7, S. Zibo-7, A. Coppola-6, D. Ribeiro-7 (80 M. Gambin), A. Ciolacu-7 (59 K. Tulimieri-6).


I.Kone-6; F. Apap-5 (46 Thaylor-6), K. Shaw-5, G. Bravo-5, B. Kristensen-5, Z. Grech-5 (84 M. Vallejo), G. Mensah-5 (77 E. Herrera), Joao Vitor-5 (76 D. Vella), A. Agius-5, Y. Muritala-5 (33 J. Grech), A. Diakite-5.

Referee Malcolm Spiteri.

Yellow cards Kristensen, Shaw.

BOV Player of the Match Enzo Cabrera (Birkirkara).

Birkirkara inflicted a heavy defeat on European rivals Hibernians after hitting them for five on Sunday at the National Stadium.

The Stripes needed a win to pip Gżira United into second place as the race for the remaining spots in Europe continues to intensify.

Giovanni Tedesco’s side staged a memorable performance, flexing their muscles from the start, having opened a four-goal lead just in the first half.

Hibernians, on their part, missed a golden opportunity to move into the top three with the game against Birkirkara posing more questions than answers to coach Silvio Vella ahead of their remaining games. They remain sixth with 39 points.

Birkirkara drew first blood at the first time of asking after just five minutes of through Andrei Ciolacu.

Enzo Cabrera managed to latch onto Simon Zibo’s long ball despite being well-marked by Gonzalo Bravo, found an unmarked Ciolacu inside the small area, and the former Floriana player converted from point-blank range.

Despite going down early, Hibernians struggled to impose themselves in the game with Birkirkara’s resiliency and tactical organisation making it difficult for them to break through.

In fact, it was the Stripes who scored the game’s next goal with Alessandro Coppola who capitalised on Denis Ribeiro’s cross with a well-weighted volley to double his team’s lead.

Tedesco’s side extended their lead with a third goal through Paul Mbong, with the Malta international picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area and firing past Ibrahim Kone.

Adding insult to injury was Yunusa Muritawa’s early exit from the field after suffering a knock, with coach Vella replacing him with Jake Grech.

Moments later, Hibernians’ nightmare continued with Mbong scoring his second goal of the game, converting Yannick Yankam’s cross into a goal.

The Paolites recorded their first noteworthy action just five minutes before half-time with defender Kurt Shaw trying his luck with a long-range effort.

At the break, Hibernians made one change with wingback Thaylor replacing Ferdinando Apap.

Shaw had a header attempt go wide as the Paolites tried to up their ante in the second 45 minutes. Zachary Grech followed with a close-range shot which Amara Sylla diverted into a corner.

Yet, it was Birkirkara who found the net with Ciolacu hitting a delightful first-timer to beat Kone from inside the penalty area.

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