BOV Premier League | Valletta 3 – Birkirkara 3

Valletta’s hopes of winning the Premier League took another setback as they were held in a 3-3 draw by Birkirkara.

Gareth Sciberras of Birkirkara in action. Photo: Dominic Borg
Gareth Sciberras of Birkirkara in action. Photo: Dominic Borg

Valletta made a perfect start to the match as they went ahead after eight minutes. Michael Mifsud went on a good run inside the penalty area and sent a shot that went across the frame of goal. Romeu Romao managed to keep it in play and delivered the ball towards Santiago Malano who placed the ball past Henry Bonello.

On the 12th minute, Valletta went close again through Mifsud. The veteran striker fired a shot from distance that went wide.

Birkirkara protested harshly for a penalty on the 24th minute as Jonathan Caruana brought down Gonzalo Malan inside the penalty area. However, the referee judged it to be a regular challenge and signalled play on.

Three minutes later, Valletta were close to double the score. Jean Borg received a long ball and went inside the penalty area before sending a shot that was parried by Bonello. Rebound fell for Luke Montebello whose shot was neutralised by the Birkirkara goalkeeper.

On the half hour mark, Valletta nearly increased the margin of the score. Leandro Aguirre hit a shot from distance that surprised Bonello who tipped the ball behind him towards the post.

Incredibly, Valletta hit the post again on the 40th minute. Montebello won the ball inside Birkirkara’s half and went through on goal. However, the Valletta striker saw his final effort hitting the post.

A minute later, Valletta paid the price for losing these chances as Birkirkara equalised. Following a corner, the ball fell for Nikola Vukanac whose low shot went past Dziugas Bartkus.

Birkirkara went ahead on the brink of half time. From another corner, Srdan Dimitrov delivered another cross inside the penalty area that fell in the path of Christian Bubalovic. The Austrian player fired a shot that gave Bartkus no chance.

The stripes had a chance to score their third goal on the 50th minute. From a free kick, Dimitrov sent a cross that found Vukanac who headed slightly over.

Valletta responded a minute later. Montebello went on a fast counter and sent a pass towards Malano. The Valletta midfielder went inside the penalty area and hit a shot that ended up off target.

Paul Zammit’s side equalised on the 74th minute. Following a cross, Tomas Radzinevicius served Maximiliano Velasco who finished past Bonello.

However, Birkirkara regained their lead on the 76th minute. Romeu Romao fouled Dimitrov inside the penalty area and Mario Apap signalled for a penalty. Edward Herrera took charge of the penalty and converted behind Bartkus.

Valletta equalised once more on the 80th minute. Velasco received the ball inside the penalty area and finished home from close range.

Valletta pushed hard in the latter stages of the match and had another good opportunity on the 89th minute. Velasco was fouled in the middle of the pitch with the ball falling to Mifsud. The referee signalled an advantage and Mifsud went on a good run inside the penalty area before hitting a powerful drive that went high.

On the 90th minute, Valletta lost their final opportunity. Montebello tried to go past Bonello on the left side. The Birkirkara goalkeeper slipped and gave Montebello the chance to place the ball inside the net. However, the Maltese forward saw his shot going on the roof of the net.

Following this result, Valletta are now six points behind Hibernians as their hopes start fading away.

Valletta starting line-up: Dziugas Bartkus, Jonathan Caruana, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Gill Cruz, Santiago Malano, Michael Mifsud, Luke Montebello, Jean Borg, Llywelyn Cremona, Leandro Aguirre, Romeu Pericles Romao

Birkirkara starting line-up: Henry Bonello, Edward Herrera, Christian Bubalovic, Gareth Sciberras, Mislav Andelkovic, Matthew Guillaumier, Nikola Vukanac, Joseph Zerafa, Gonzalo Malan, Cain Attard, Srdan Dimitrov

Referee: Mario Apap

Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, William Debattista

Additional Assistant Referees: Alan Mario Sant, Etienne Mangion

Fourth Official: Christopher Azzopardi

BOV Player of the Match: Srdan Dimitrov (Birkirkara)

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