Birkirkara and Valletta share spoils in six-goal thriller

by Ayrton Galea - 16th April 2017
Birkirkara FC
Premier League

National Stadium

15/04/2017 - 18:00
Valletta FC

Birkirkara FC and Valletta FC shared a six-goal thriller in a 3-3 draw to take a point each in the match of the week of the BOV Premier League. The two rivals traded six goals between them in what was undoubtedly the most entertaining match of the season.

In a match full of twist of turns, Birkirkara and Valletta took a deserved point each for their collective effort as the two sides produced a spectacular match full of open and direct football that produced three goals in each half.

Valletta surged ahead early in the match but Birkirkara produced an excellent comeback to score twice in the last four minutes of the first half to turn the match in their favour. However, three goals in space of seven minutes inside the second half, two for Valletta and one for the Stripes, left nothing to separate from both sides.

Despite Birkirkara's unbeaten is now extended to eighth matches, the Stripes lost the grip on completing their comeback and secure a top-three finish as with this result, Valletta kept their four-point lead while Balzan registered a dramatic late winner to move five points ahead.

Coach Nikola Jaros kept faith in last weekend's starting-eleven selection, but was boosted by the return of Miguel Alba and Ryan Scicluna who were both on the substitutes' bench, after recovering from an injury.

The First Half

The Citizens surged ahead after eighth minutes with a controversial goal. Mifsud's low cross-shot looked clear that have crossed the line but with no signal from either the assistant referee and the additional assistant referee, Romeu Romeo served Santiago Malan who hit a low shot home.

The Stripes had harsh protests for what it seemed a clear penalty mid-way through the first half. Dimitrov's corner kick fell to the path of Christian Bubalovic who was floored down before could finish from short distance. However, the referee waved play-on.

Valletta almost double their lead on the half-hour mark when a shot from distance surprised the hesitant goalkeeper Henry Bonello as he mishandled Leonardo Aguirre's shot but the ball hit the post and dragged across the goal-line before Bonello amended his blunder.

Gonzalo Malan delivered an excellent cross on the second post past the half-hour mark, but Srdjan Dimitrov saw his powerful low shot hitting the side-netting. Five minutes later, Ryan Camilleri was the protagonist with an excellent tackle to deny Dimitrov from shooting from close range.

Valletta were gifted an open scoring chance on the fortieth minute. Bubalovic failed to hit the ball well and Montebello sprinted all alone inside the box but his shot was denied by the foot of the post, with Bonello beaten.

Birkirkara made the score level four minutes from half time. Dimitrov's second post corner kick found Attard who headed the ball in the path of Nikola Vukanac and the latter drilled a low shot past goalkeeper Bartkus.

Boosted by the equalising goal, the Stripes took just four minutes to turn the score around. Dimitrov sent an inch-perfect cross on the second post that saw Attard deflect the ball towards Bubalovic and the towering defender connecting home from close-range

The Second Half

Have turned the game in their favour in the last minutes of the first half, the Stripes went out with all guns blazing in the second half. Dimitrov's free-kick saw Vukanac's bullet header ending wide by inches.

Moments later, Malan's shot from distance surprised Bartkus but the latter turned it into a corner. However, Valletta were quick to transfer the ball from the back upfront as Montebello sprinted clear before serving Malan who from an ideal position, failed to hit the target.

With Valletta trailing, Coach Paul Zammit brought on forwards Maximiliano Velasco and Tomas Radzinevicius for defender Juan Gill Cruz and midfielder Llywelyn Cremona, as the Valletta Coach put more men forward.

The two substitutes left their mark on the seventy-third minute when both forwards combined well for Valletta's equalising goal. Radzinevicius' header caught the defence on the back foot and Velasco poked home from close-range.

Valletta's joy was short-lives as Birkirkara regained the lead three minutes later. Dimitrov was floored in the box by Romeo and Referee Mario Apap ordered the penalty. From the spot, Herrera, calm as ever, sent Bartkus the wrong side.

However, the Citizens restored equilibrium ten minutes from time for the third goal in the match in space of seven minutes. The sloppy Birkirkara defence failed to clear and Velasco had a routine task to hit past goalkeeper Bonello from inside the box.

The Stripes were survived a late scare in the first minute of added time when hesitant again Henry Bonello somehow lost his balance to gift Radzinevicius an open scoring opportunity, but his shot ended over as both teams took a deserved point each.

Birkirkara offensive player Srdjan Dimitrov was voted the BOV Player of the Match.

BIRKIRKARA: Henry Bonello, Edward Herrera, Christian Bubalovic, Gareth Sciberras, Matthew Guillaumier (70' Edmond Agius), Mislav Andelkovic, Srdjan Dimitrov (83' Miguel Alba), Nikola Vukanac, Joseph Zerafa, Cain Attard, Gonzalo Malan (59' Vito Plut).

VALLETTA: Dziugas Bartkus, Jonathan Caruana, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Gill Cruz (56' Maximiliano Velasco), Santiago Malano, Michael Mifsud, Luke Montebello, Jean Borg, Llywelyn Cremona (73' Tomas Radzinevicius), Leandro Aguirre, Romeu Pericles Romao.

Referee: Mario Apap.
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, William Debattista.
Additional Assistant Referees: Alan Mario Sant, Etienne Mangion.
Fourth Official: Christopher Azzopardi.

Yellow Cards: 69' Christian Bubalovic (B), 86' Ryan Camilleri (V), 87' Gareth Sciberras, 89' Miguel Alba (B).

Scorers: 8' Santiago Malan (V), 41' Nikola Vukanac, 45' Christian Bubalovic (B), 73' Maximiliano Velasco (V), 76' Edward Herrera (B), 80' Maximiliano Velasco (V).

BOV Player of the Match: Srdjan Dimitrov (Birkirkara).

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