I. Kone, F. Apap, K. Shaw, A. Attard (69 C. Bonanni), A. Hovhannisyan, J. Degabriele (69 L. Guedes), B. Kristensen, Z. Grech (69 R. Bairam), S. Okoh (83 E. Santos DeSouza), G.Bastianos-4, R. Antwi-6.5.
M. Zapytowski, D. Mariani, J. Pajovic, Y. Yankam, P. Mbong (69 E. Elouni), K. Zammit, A. Satariano (69 A. Ciolacu), N. Cross-5, S. Zibo, A. Diakite, Maxuell (59 Adailton).
Referee: Alex Johnson.
Yellow cards: Kristensen, Apap, Mbong, Bonanni.
BOV player of the match: Yannick Yankam (Birkirkara).
Substitute Andrei Ciolacu came off the bench to hand Birkirkara a priceless victory over Hibernians at the National Stadium.
The Romanian striker had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes but still managed to leave a lasting impact when latching to Yannick Yankam’s pass and finishing expertly with a volley.
Ciolacu’s speed of thought and feet proved decisive again as Birkirkara returned to winning ways after a 2-0 defeat to Floriana and a 1-1 draw with Valletta.
Birkirkara were just about worth the win in an error-ridden match.
Bjorn Kristensen had Hibernians’ best chance in the first half as he threatened with a long-range shot.
Retrieving possession next to halfway line, the Malta midfielder produced an exquisite chip which the backtracking goalkeeper Marcel Zapytowaski fantastically tipped the ball over the bar.
But slowly and surely, Birkirkara upped the pace and put the Hibs defence under increasing pressure.
Paul Mbong was played through by Alexander Satariano as he ran in between Hibs’ centre-backs to shoot straight at Ibrahim Kone.
Birkirkara continued to peg their rivals back into their own half. Shy the half hour mark, Satariano fizzed an angled shot into the side-netting.
Kurt Zammit, then put in a crucial block to deny Jurgen Degabriele, when the nippy striker failed to connect to Rodney Antwi’s cross after the Birkirkara defender got a vital touch on the ball.
At the other end, Satariano looked out of sorts for Birkirkara as he wasted a string of chances to put the Stripes ahead.
The winger produced a rising shot that drifted high and wide, connecting with Yannick Yankam’s cross in front of goal.
The Paolites were also guilty of some glaring misses. After the break, Giannis Bastianos sent a volley well over the Birkirkara crossbar after Antwi’s square pass.
On the hour mark, the Stripes clearly felt referee Alex Johnson should have sent Ferdinando Apap off after he hauled down Satariano as he closed in on goal but the defender was only cautioned.
But it was Birkirkara who continued to look the more likely side to score and so it proved as Ciolacu clearly carried the ball around Kurt Shaw before turning his shot home.
Adailton outsprinted Robert Bairam on the left flank but when the Romanian midfielder attempted to repair the error, he could only find Ciolacu who turned the ball behind Kone.
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