Valletta consolidate second place with fine win over Birkirkara

Valletta were back to winning ways when they needed a late Hamza Barry goal to overcome Birkirkara 2-1 at the National Stadium.

Valletta went in front in their first attempt at goal on 16 minutes when off a corner kick taken by Nafti, Steve Borg reached to the ball ahead of keeper Justin Haber for the ball to finish in the back of the net.

Valletta looked the fresher of the two as they pressed high their opponents with the stripes often forced to make mistakes leading to loss of possession.

On 26 minutes Roderick Briffa sent a perfect chio in the direction of Abdelkarim Nafti whose attempted lob over the oncoming Haber finished just wide.

Seven minutes later, Valletta almost caught Birkirkara napping when in a fast break involving some quick passing, Nafti put Elford Alliyu clear but the English striker was stopped in time by a fine tackle from Zerafa.

Birkirkara’s first attempt at goal came on 36 minutes when Rafael Ledesma’s low shot failed to trouble Vella.

A minute from half-time Birkirkara appealed for a penalty when Camenzuli appeared to be fouled in the area by Dimech. However, Adrian Azzopardi continued play indicating Dimech's challenge did not make contact with Camenzuli and instead awarded the Stripes an indirect free-kick from inside the area for dangerous play.

From the ensuing free-kick, Ledesma effort flew high and wide.

Paul Zammit, the Birkirkara coach, tried toinstall some much need grit and firepower on the restart as he withdrew Camenzuli to make space for Liliu.

Valletta continued to domate the proceedings and on 48 minutes Barry sent a ball towards Nafti on the edge of the area and the Tunisian quickly released Bajada whose low shot was blocked by Haber.

Birkirkara wereback in the contest when on 53 minutes from a corner kick action Vella fumbled the ball in an attempt to block Ledesma’s cross and in came Ryan Scicluna who bundled the ball into the net.

The Lilly Whites remained the brighter side and on 73 minutes Barry was again denied by Haber.

Thirteen minutes from time Valletta protested for a penalty when Nafti fell following an aerial challenge by Mazzetti Latini but the referee was untoward.

Valletta scored the winner ten minutes from time in an attempt to anticipate an opponent; Zack Brincat headed the ball towards an unmarked Hamza Barry who had no trouble beating Justin Haber from close range.

BOV Man of the Match: Hamza Barry.

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