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Hibernians, Birkirkara fail to gain ground on leaders after stalemate

Hibs forward Gabriel Mensah (right) powers past Enzo Cabrera. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli


Shaw 58


Iorio 23


I. Kone, F. Apap, K. Shaw, G. Llerena, Thaylor, J. Grech, J. Degabriele, B. Kristensen, G. Artiles, Y. Muritala-5.5 (83 G. Mensah), A. Diakite.


G. Nava, O. Iorio, E. Pepe, D. Dall’Oca-6 (68 N. Micallef), A. Alves-6.5 (74 D. Ribeiro), Y. Yankam-6.5, P. Mbong-6 (68 E. Cabrera), K. Zammit, N. Radojevic, S. Zibo, K. Tulimieri.

Referee Fyodor Zammit.

Yellow cards Dall’Oca, Diakite, Mbong, Llerena, Iorio, Shaw.

BOV Player of the match Osvaldo Iorio (Birkirkara).

Birkirkara and Hibernians failed to make ground on the Premier League pacesetters as they had to settle for a point at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

It was a game of two halves, with Birkirkara showing the better football during the opening 45 minutes to take a deserved lead through Osvaldo Iorio.

But Hibernians fought back strongly after the break and their efforts were rewarded with a Kurt Shaw goal, his first for the Paola club.

The final stalemate left both teams tied in third place on 18 points, seven adrift of leaders Ħamrun Spartans who face Balzan today.

The first chance of the match came Birkirkara’s way after 14 minutes when Alex Alves cut inside from the left flank and his low shot was well saved by Ibrahim Kone.

At the other end, Jake Grech should have done better when he received a clearance on the edge of the area but fired over the bar.

Birkirkara took the lead on 23 minutes and what a goal it was. Yannick Yankam found Osvaldo Iorio who chested down the ball and fired a rasping volley that gave no chance to Kone.

Hibernians looked rattled as the Paolites seemed unable to produce a reaction as they showed little flair when pushing forward.

On 33 minutes, Birkirkara came close when Alves picked Diego Dall’Oca whose low drive was pushed away by Kone.

The Hibs goalkeeper was again alert a minute later when this time he denied Mbong.

Hibs finally threatened minute from the interval when Thaylor picked Jurgen Degabriele inside the area but the nippy forward headed over.

After the break, Hibs started to pile up the pressure and their efforts were rewarded on 58 minutes.

Referee Fyodor Zammit orders the players off the pitch due to heavy rain. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Degabriele picked Muritala on the edge of the area and the latter set up Kurt Shaw who hit a low drive that gave no chance to Giacomo Nava and level matters.

Birkirkara tried to respond and on 65 minutes Tulimieri’s inswinger flew over.

On 73 minutes, Nava charged out of his goal to challenge the steaming Degabriele, but the Hibs forward evaded his challenge but then his cross was cleared by the Birkirkara defence.

The match was halted temporarily three minutes from time for a few seconds due to a hailstorm but when play restarted substitute Gabriel Mensah almost won it for Hibs but his close-range shot was splendidly kept out by Nava.

Standings provided by Sofascore

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