BOV Premier League | Birkirkara 1 – Hibernians 3

Hibernians are still in the race for a place in Europe after securing a comfortable 3-1 win over Birkirkara.

Photo: Dominic Borg
Photo: Dominic Borg

The second match at the National Stadium saw the teams of Birkirkara and Hibernians facing off each other. This game was an important one for both sides if they are going to play in next season’s Europa League.

The pressure was on Hibernians as they were conscious that a win was a must if they are going to achieve their remaining target. However, Birkirkara also needed a good result to keep the pace with Gżira.

Paul Zammit made two changes to the team that defeated Tarxien Rainbows. Matthew Guillaumier and Nikola Vukanac replaced Lucas Maia and Edward Herrera.

On the other hand, Mario Muscat decided to make three alterations to the team that thrashed Lija 7-0. Rui Da Garcia Gomes, Jorge Da Silva Pereira and Arlindo Oliveira Neto were replaced by Marcelo Dias, Clayton Failla and Andrei Agius.

The Paolites created the first opportunity of the match after ten minutes. Timmy Tabone Desira sent Marcelo Dias through down the left side. The Brazilian ran towards goal, but failed to hit the target from close range.

Three minutes later, Degabriele received a cross inside the penalty area and headed the ball slightly wide.

On the 23rd minute, Clayton Failla saw his volley from distance ending up marginally over.

Hibs kept on insisting and went close again a minute later. Following a mistake by Cain Attard, Joseph Mbong went through, but his effort was blocked by Kristijan Naumovski.

Naumovski was on the alert to deny Hibernians once more on the 33rd minute. Dias served Jackson De Lima Siqueira and the latter saw his shot being blocked by Birkirkara’s goalkeeper.

Birkirkara’s goalkeeper kept his side level again in the additional time prior to half-time. De Lima Siqueira received the ball from Degabriele and hit a low shot that was tipped for a corner by Naumovski.

The stripes were reduced to ten men a minute later when Mislav Andelkovic was sent off after being shown his second yellow card of the match. This decision brought a chaos as Birkirkara’s players and technical staff protested harshly and the police had to intervene. After this incident, the referee also decided to send Birkirkara’s club official, Michael Valencia, off the technical bench.

Hibernians started the second half looking to take an advantage of their extra man and went close on the 56th minute. Mbong served Degabriele on the right and the latter fired a powerful shot that ended up high.

Two minutes later, Degabriele hit another powerful shot, but this time, the young striker found Naumovski in his way.

Hibs finally scored on the 62nd minute. Clayton Failla sent a cross inside the penalty area that was met by De Lima Siqueira whose header gave Naumovski no chance.

Mbong added another goal for Hibernians on the 66th minute. The Maltese forward received the ball from Degabriele and sent a header that took a deflection off the post and ended up inside the net.

Hibernians sealed the issue two minutes later. Degabriele received the ball on the right side of the penalty area and fired a powerful drive in inside the net.

Substitute Jorge Da Silva Pereira could have added another for Hibernians on the 74th minute. Da Lima Siqueira went on a good run down the right flank before sending a low cross towards the unmarked Jorginho whose shot was pushed away by Naumovski.

Naumovski was crucial again a minute later. Degabriele was played through on goal, but was denied by Birkirkara’s goalkeeper as the latter blocked his effort.

Birkirkara pulled one back on the 90th minute. Ognjen Rolovic was fouled by Mbong inside the penalty area and the referee pointed towards the spot. From the eleven metres, Ognjen Rolovic placed the ball behind Andrew Hogg.       

Following this result, Hibernians are just two points behind Birkirkara and thus they can still finish fourth in the table and qualify for the Europa League. They will also hope that Sliema Wanderers won’t lift the FA trophy because if this happens, Sliema will participate in the Europa League instead of Hibs. 

Birkirkara starting line-up: Kristijan Naumovski, Fernando Barbosa Pereira, Matthew Gulliamer (Ognjen Rolovic – 68), Mislav Andelkovic, Jake Grech (Edward Herrera- 68), Kurt Zammit, Nikola Vukanac, Carlos Alberto Da Silva Goncalves Junior, Waldemar Jesus Acosta Ferreira, Ryan Scicluna, Cain Attard (Terrence Agius – 78)

Hibernians starting line-up: Andrew Hogg, Dunstan Vella, Martin Kreuzriegler, Jackson De Lima Siqueira (Rui Da Garcia Gomes- 82), Rodolfo Soares (Johann Bezzina – 70), Marcelo Dias (Jorge Pereira Da Silva- 66), Jurgen Degabriele, Clayton Fialla, Timmy Tabone Desira, Joseph Mbong, Andrei Agius

Referee: Malcolm Spiteri

Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono

Fourth Official: Stefan Pace

BOV Player of the Match: Jurgen Degabriele (Hibernians)