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Birkirkara edge Balzan in thrilling shoot-out to reach FA Trophy quarter-finals

BALZAN           2

A. Torres 67; Raso 74 pen.

BIRKIRKARA          2                                                                    

Yankam 14; Attard 90

(Birkirkara win 5-4 on penalties)


R. Briffa, I. Bozovic, D. Torres, S. Arab, M. Grima (46 A. Satariano), P. Fenech (87 Z. Grech), A. Torres (90 B. Mladenovic), D. Ndinga, M. Raso, A. Aandrejic, B. Kaljevic (71 Matheus).


G. Nava, O. Iorio (88 J.P. Farrugia) (91 N. Micallef), A. Alves (82 K. Tulimieri), Y. Yankam, P. Mbong (81 J. Valletta) (91 M. Gambin)  K. Zammit, C. Attard, E. Cabrera, S. Zibo, A. Coppola, D. Ribeiro (77 A. Ciolacu).

Referee: Matthew De Gabriele.

Yellow cards Grima, Bozovic, Zammit, Arab, Jankam, Coppola, Satariano.

Red card: Coppola (BKR) 90+; Bozovic (BL) 100.

Penalty sequence: Mladenovic (BL) scores 1-0; Yankam (BKR) misses 1-0; D. Torres (BL) scores 2-0; Cabrera (BKR) scores 2-1; Ndinga (BL) misses 2-1; Ciolacu (BKR) scores 2-2; Matheus (BL) scores 3-2; Tulimieri (BKR) scores 3-3; Satariano (BL) scores 4-3; Zibo (BKR) scores 4-4; Raso (BL) misses 4-4; Zammit (BKR) scores 5-4.

Birkirkara won a thrilling penalty shoot-out to overcome the stiff challenge of Balzan and reach the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy.

It was a dramatic victory for the Stripes who looked set to bow out of the competition after trailing Balzan 2-1 with a minute of stoppage time to go in normal time. But Cain Attard’s dramatic equaliser with virtually the last kick of the match sent the match into extra-time and eventually a penalty shoot-out.

Birkirkara had a great start as on 14 minutes they took the lead.

From a corner kick, Paul Mbong picked Yannick Yankam who saw his firm header cleared off the line by Paul Fenech but the Birkirkara midfielder was not to be denied from the rebound to fire home.

The Stripes should have doubled their lead on 33 minutes when Dennis Ribeiro picked the unmarked Mbong inside the area but the Malta midfielder headed over.

Just before the break, Birkirkara threatened again but this time Osvaldo Iorio’s shot lacked power to create any problem to Rudy Briffa.

On the restart, Balzan coach Oliver Spiteri roped in Alex Satariano for Marcus Grima in a bid to bolster his forward line.

But it was the Stripes who threatened again three minutes into the second half. Briffa failed to hold Mbong’s corner kick, the ball fell to Iorio who was denied by the Balzan goalkeeper.

Balzan’s first real chance came on 65 minutes when in a swift break, Kaljevic put Angel Torres clear but the Colombian forward saw his shot finish over the bar.

But theTorres was not to be denied on 67 minutes when Kaljevic won a ball in midfield and quickly served the Colombian forward who turned past his marker to fire past Nava.

Things got worse for Birkirkara as on 74 minutes Matthew De Gabriele pointed to the spot when he judged that substitute Matheus was fouled by Simon Zibo inside the area.

From the spot, Momcilo Raso drilled the ball past Nava.

Balzan were on top and on 78 minutes Paul Fenech was unlucky to see his shot whiz past the upright.

Birkirkara looked on the ropes and a minute later Satariano broke free and his shot was saved by Nava and on 86 minutes Matheus stole the ball from Coppola but the Brazilian was denied by Nava.

That proved costly as Birkirkara got the equaliser in stoppage time when after a defensive melee the ball fell to Cain Attard who flicked the ball home.

Birkirkara finished normal time with ten men when Coppola suffered his second booking.

Numerical parity was restored in the tenth minute of extra-time when Bozovic was shown a second yellow card.

Three minutes later, Cabrera sped clear but his attempted lob over Briffa finished wide at the other end Mlandenovic fired just wide from an inviting position as the match went to a penalty shoot-out to decide a winner.

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