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Ciolacu goal hands Birkirkara victory over resilient Sliema Wanderers

Birkirkara's Simon Zibo (centre) tries to force his way through against Sliema Wanderers. Photo: Dominic Borg

BIRKIRKARA                                1

Ciolacu 68

SLIEMA WANDERERS               0

BIRKIRKARA

M. Zapytowski; J. Pajovic, E. Pepe, Adailton (87 O. Elouni), Y. Yankam, P. Mbong (78 N. Micallef), K. Zammit, A. Satariano, E. Pena Beltre, S. Zibo, Maxuell (63 A. Ciolacu).

SLIEMA WANDERERS

R. Al Tumi; J. Borg, J. Minala, M. Scerri (58 K. Abubakar), V. Plut, M. Beerman (85 L. Micallef), G. Alcino, D. Damsen, M. Freire, G. Acheampong, S. Gomes (76 M. Awad).

Referee Malcolm Spiteri.

Yellow cards Pajovic, Pepe, Scerri, Plut, Alcino.

BOV Player of the Match Geoffrey Acheampong (Sliema Wanderers).

A second-half goal by substitute Andrei Ciolacu was enough to earn Birkirkara a winning start in this season’s Premier League campaign

The Romanian forward scored minutes after coming off the bench as the Stripes managed to beat a resilient Sliema Wanderers side.

The Blues, on their return to the top-flight, left a good impression and although they start their campaign with a defeat, Sunday’s display bodes well for the remainder of the season.

Birkirkara coach Giovanni Tedesco fielded six new signings from the start with Polish goalkeeper Marcel Zapytowski given the nod between the sticks.

Jovan Pajovic started alongside Enrico Pepe and Kurt Zammit in the back three with Enmy Pena Beltre and Alexander Satariano featuring as wingbacks.

Adailton partnered Maxuell upfront with Paul Mbong playing slightly behind them in a free role.

Sliema, on their part, deployed several new faces in their first game of the season under the guidance of former Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit.

Jean Borg started in the Wanderers’ backline while former Lazio midfielder Joseph Minala was also in the starting formation.

Samuel Gomes and Vito Plut, both joining in this summer’s transfer window after playing for Gudja United last season, formed Sliema’s striking partnership.

Plut almost scored for Sliema Wanderers after just three minutes only to see his close-range chance cleared off the line.

Birkirkara replied through Alexander Satariano but his shot was too weak to beat Sliema’s goalkeeper Rashed Al Tumi.

The Sliema goalkeeper was tested by Adailton who after making his way into the box, fired a low drive but failed to find the net.

Despite these few chances, the first half failed to spark into life as after Sliema’s energetic start, the tempo of the game dropped with chances being at a premium.

After the half-time interval, Birkirkara produced a better start as Tedesco’s side was in search of an early lead in the second 45 minutes.

Maxuell tried his luck through a long-range freekick just to see his effort sail over Al Tumi’s goal.

Sliema’s first chance in the second half dropped on the feet of Gustavo Alcino who was denied by Zapytowski as the goalless draw continued to prevail.

Past the hour mark, Tedesco replaced Maxuell with Ciolacu and it took only a few minutes for the Romanian forward to leave an impact after putting the Stripes ahead from point-blank range.

Adailton tried to double the score on a couple of occasions but was denied by Al Tumi on his first chance before seeing his curling effort go inches wide.

Karim Abubakar, who came on for captain Mark Scerri, tried his luck from long range but could not beat Zapytwoski.

Moments later, Mohamed Awad also tried to beat Birkirkara’s Polish goalkeeper but once again Sliema could not find an equaliser as Birkirkara held on for the win.

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