Iorio 12; Tulimieri 86
G. Nava-6.5, O. Iorio-6 (80 K. Tulimieri), E. Pepe-6.5, A. Da Paixao-7 (85 J. Farrugia), Y. Yankam-6.5, K. Zammit-6, C. Attard-6, E. Cabrera-6 (80 P. Mbong), S. Zibo-6, A. Coppola-6, D. Ribeiro-6 (61 D. Pires).
J. Debono-6, I. Bozovic-6, D. Torres-6.5 (89 L. Agius), M. Grima-6 (89 A. Bradshaw), P. Fenech-6.5, A. Torres-6.5, M. Zlatkovic-6, A. Satariano-6 (68 S. Arab), N. Braunovic-6 (68 M. Raso), M. Sousa-6, A. Andrejic-6 (86 B. Kaljevic).
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann.
Yellow cards: Zammit, Satariano, Cabrera, Nava, Da Paixao, Zlatkovic, A. Coppola, Andrejic.
Red Cards: Arab (B) 90.
BOV Player of the Match: Alex Alves (Birkirkara).
A goal four minutes from time by substitute Kevin Tulimieri handed Birkirkara three precious points as they defeated Balzan 2-1.
Although the Stripes took an early lead, Balzan equalised before half-time and during the second half, the two teams shared the exchanges.
But in the end, Giovanni Tedesco’s side regained the lead to take home the three points. Thanks to this win, Birkirkara move second, one point ahead of Hibernians, who, however have a game in hand.
Three players were back in the starting line-up for Birkirkara as Giacomo Nava replaced Amara Sylla in goal while Enrico Pepe and Alessandro Coppola were back after serving a one-match ban.
On the other hand, following the win over Gżira United, Balzan coach Oliver Spiteri named an unchanged side.
Birkirkara took the lead on 12 minutes. Alex Alves delivered a corner from the left and Osvaldo Iorio headed the ball home from close range.
Five minutes later, Balzan went close with an assist by Aleksa Andrejic for Angel Torres from the left but the latter’s attempt was blocked into a corner.
The Stripes threatened once again on 39 minutes when Alves released Enzo Daniel Cabrera inside the area and the latter rounded Duvan Torres but his low shot was blocked into a corner by Debono.
One minute in added time, before the end of the first half, Balzan levelled matters. Following a cross by Alex Satariano from the right, Paul Fenech served Aleksa Andrejic whose fierce shot was blocked by goalkeeper Giacomo Nava but Matheus Sousa headed home from close range.
Eleven minutes in the second half, Nava came to the rescue blocking at point blank an Alex Satariano effort following an inviting cross by Ivan Bozovic from the right.
Three minutes later, a cross shot by Alves was not held by Debono but Denis Custodio Ribeiro headed high from close range.
Birkirkara regained the lead on 86 minutes.
Substitute Kevin Tulimieri pounced on a through pass and despite being challenged by Torres, he managed to beat Jonathan Debono with a shot in the bottom right corner.
Balzan replied with a powerful drive by Paul Fenech which was, however, saved by Nava on 88 minutes.
Four minutes from time, Balzan were reduced to ten men after Samir Arab was sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity after bring down Yannick Yankam just outside the area after beating Momcilo Raso on the run.
From the resulting freekick, Alessandro Coppola’s effort was partially saved by Debono with the ball cleared into safety by a defender.
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