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Iorio brace sends Birkirkara past Gudja United

BIRKIRKARA          3

Iorio 16, 47; Cabrera 41


Nagamatsu 83

BIRKIRKARA A. Sylla-6, O. Iorio-7.5 (90 N. Cross), D. Pires-6.5 (77 M. Fedele), A. Alves-6 (68 A. Ciolacu), P. Mbong-7 (77 J. Valletta), K. Zammit-6, C. Attard-5.5, E. Cabrera-6.5, S. Zibo-6, A. Coppola-6, D. Ribeiro-6.5 (90 M. Gambin).

GUDJA UNITED G. Zammit-7, A. Prates-6, T. Nagamatsu-6.5, V. Plut-6.5, J. Arthur-6, N. Micallef-5.5, K. Micallef-6, H.Vella-5.5 (75 J. Attard), M. Muchardi-6, N. Navarrete-6 (68 S. Attard), F. Zuniga-6.

Referee Philip Farrugia.

Yellow cards Pires, Vella, Cabrera, N. Micallef.

BOV Player of the match Osvaldo Iorio (Birkirkara).

Birkirkara went level on points with Gzira United in second place after comfortably beating Gudja United 3-1 at the Tony Bezzina Stadium.

Giovanni Tedesco’s Stripes featured five different players from their draw against Valletta. Enrico Pepe and Matteo Fedele were relegated to the bench, while goalkeeper Giacomo Nava, Kevin Tulimieri, and Yannick Yankam watched from the stands.

In their place were Amara Sylla, Osvaldo Iorio, Diego Pires, Paul Mbong and Denis Ribeiro.

At the other end, Andrea Agostinelli made two changes to his squad from the win against Santa Lucia – Juan Bolanos and John Mintoff making way for Andre Prates and Hubert Vella.

The two sides were forced to endure a previously flooded surface after two days of inclement weather, making the ball as tricky to control as ever. However, Birkirkara made the most of the fast-moving ball to open proceedings after the quarter-hour.

A low cross from Ribeiro into the area found a speeding Mbong who attempted to tap the ball in, but goalkeeper Glenn Zammit rushed out to block the ball away. Little did he know that the loose ball fell straight to Iorio, who fired in the rebound.

Gudja were looking second best for the majority of play and four minutes from the break, Iorio went close to scoring a brace with a low shot but his effort went wide this time.

In spite of that, Enzo Cabrera made amends with team’s next opportunity, when he connected to a cross from Diego Pires to send the ball home.

Two minutes into the second half, Birkirkara scored again when once more, Iorio benefitted from a blocked shot to hit the rebound effort into the net.

They were close to making it four just seconds later when a counter attack led the ball to Mbong who played a a quick one-two play with Alex Alves but Zammit was alert to stop the final touch.

Gudja finally replied with a Vito Plut effort on 50 minutes which beat Sylla but hit he upright.

Birkirkara continued to hold onto the ball as time progressed, Gudja taking their chances from deep through Plut and Matteo Muchardi but it was Tatsuro Nagamatsu who scored his side’s consolation goal when mistakes in the Stripes’ defence left the Japanese wide open as he fired in past Sylla.

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