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Watch: Substitute goalkeeper Sylla stars as holders Birkirkara oust Ħamrun Spartans in shoot-out

Luke Montebello (left) challenges Birkirkara's Alessandro Coppola. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier


Satariano 45

Borg 65og


Duranovic 43, 75 pen.

(aet: Birkirkara win 4-3 on penalties)


M. Zapytowski (120 A. Sylla), E. Pepe, P. Mbong (98 M. Maia), A. Zammit (79 A. Ciolacu), K. Zammit, A. Satariano (110 E. Sarpong), E. Pena Beltre, N. Micallef, A. Coppola, S. Zibo, A. Diakite.


F. Marchetti, S. Borg (108 C. Rutjens), L. Montebello (75 R. Camenzuli), J. Mbong, R. Prsa (105 S. Paintsil), Elionay (46 Eder), U. Duranovic, O. Bjelicic, J. Corbalan, E. Marcelina, Jonny.

Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann.

Yellow cards: Pepe, Bjelicic, P. Mbong, Eder, Zapytowski, Bjelicic.

Red cards Duranovic (Ħ) 97, Diakite (B) 97.

Penalty sequence: Maia (B) scores (1-0); Marcelina (Ħ) scores 1-1; Zibo (B) saved 1-1; Jonny (Ħ) saved 1-1; Ciolacu (B) scores 2-1; Rutjens (Ħ) scores 2-2; Micallef (B) scores 3-2; Mbong (Ħ) scores 3-3; Coppola (B) scores 4-3; Bjelicic (Ħ) misses 4-3.

Goalkeeper Amara Sylla came off the bench in the last seconds of extra-time to propel Birkirkara into the semi-finals of the FA Trophy when he saved two penalties in the shoot-out to propel his team into the semi-finals of the FA Trophy at the expense of Ħamrun Spartans.

It was a dramatic outcome to a match which saw both teams giving everything they have with Birkirkara coming from behind to take a 2-1 lead before the Spartans forced extra-time with a late equaliser.

And then it was Sylla who took centre stage when he saved the penalties taken by Jonny and Ognjen Bjelicic to lead the FA Trophy holders into the semi-finals and end Ħamrun Spartans’ dream of a treble.

Ħamrun Spartans coach Luciano Zauri lost his regular goalkeeper Henry Bonello who suffered a suspected cruciate knee ligament injury and was replaced in goal by Federico Marchetti.

Ognjen Bjelicic and Roko Prsa were both promoted to the starting formation while Ryan Camenzuli was fit enough to make it on the bench.

Ħamrun made a fast start to the match and on 12 minutes, Jonny sped clear on the right and his low cross was dummied by Uros Duranovic into the path of the unmarked Roko Prsa who fired wide.

Birkirkara threatened four minutes later when Emerson Marcelina’s back header was intercepted by Alex Satariano who put Andrea Zammit in space but the Malta U-21 international was blocked by Steve Borg.

Gradually, Birkirkara grew into the match and on 29 minutes, Alessandro Coppola connected with Zammit’s delivery from a corner and his downward header was tipped over by Marchetti.

However, it was Ħamrun who took the lead on 43 minutes when Jonny won a free-kick on the edge of the area and Duranovic fired a firm drive that gave no chance to Zapytowski.

The Spartans almost doubled their lead in stoppage time but Juan Corbalan headed wide from close in.

Instead it was Birkirkara who equalised soon after when Satariano unleashed a powerful drive that flew past the diving Marchetti.

On 50 minutes, Duranovic latched to Corbalan’s cross and his header was saved by Zapytowski.

It was all Ħamrun now and on 55 minutes Jonny moved past Zibo but fired wide.

Ħamrun thought they had taken the lead on 63 minutes when Eder dispossessed Coppola and fired home but the referee harshly annulled the goal for a foul on the Birkirkara defender.

Instead, it was Birkirkara who scored on 65 minutes when Satariano played in Paul Mbong who seemed to lose his footing with Steve Borg, in an attempt to clear the ball, directed the ball into his own net.

Ħamrun hit back and were handed a lifeline on 74 minutes when Birkrikara’s Neil Micallef was harshly adjudged to have pushed Prsa inside the area with the referee pointing to the spot.

Duranovic stepped up and drilled the ball past Zapytowski.

Jonny could have won it in stoppage time when he was put through by Camenzuli but was denied by Zapytowski as the match headed to extra-time.

The Spartans started strongly with Zapytowski denying Jonny and from the resultant flag-kick, Prsa’s delivery hit the upright.

Both teams finished with ten men when Duranovic and Diakite were sent off as the Montenegrin striker was sanctioned for a high tackle while the Stripes midfielder was punished for retaliation.

On 112 minutes, Eder sped inside the area and his low cross was met by Jonny whose shot was deflected past the upright.

Just before the end of extra-time Jose Borg decided to replace Zapytowski with Amara Sylla and the Birkirkara substitute went on to take centre stage to hand his team a 4-3 shoot-out win.

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