BOV Super Cup Valletta 1 Bkara 2
Birkirkara are the winners of this year’s Super Cup after beating champions Valletta 2-1 this evening.
Having lost the title to their bitter rivals on the final day of last season, Birkirkara needed a win to show that they are ready to bounce back from that upset.
They achieved their aim thanks to goals from new signing Eliandro and Edward Herrera after Valletta had hit back to draw level through Jonathan Caruana.
The game was generally balanced but Birkirkara probably deserved their win as they were the more dangerous side going forward, missing a host of chances in the first half.
Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit gave Brazilian striker Eliandro his debut while fellow countryman Ellinton Antonio Costa Morais, signed this week, started on the bench.
Gilbert Agius, the Valletta coach, handed the no.1 shirt to Yenz Cini while English striker Lateef Elford-Alliyu was preferred to Cameroonian newcomer Raphael Kooh Sohna up fron.
Valletta were first to threaten after six minutes. Maltese-Australian winger Adrian Zahra, back in the fray after missing the Champions League commitments through injury, had a great chance to score his first goal for Valletta when Abdelkarim Nafti’s measured cross from the right found him unmarked but his diving header was off target.
Birkirkara were quick to respond, twice going close with efforts from Ryan Ledesma which ended wide.
A corner by Ledesma soared into the Valletta box but Zach Muscat’s rising header went over.
Cini then pushed away another Ledesma corner but Birkirkara opened the scoring on 16 minutes thanks to Eliandro whose low strike from outside the box caught Cini by surprise.
Five minutes later, Eliandro threatened to increase Birkirkara’s lead. Pouncing on a short backpass from Joanthan Caruana, Eliandro ran towards goal but his scambled effort was stopped by the on-rushing Cini.
Just past the half-hour mark, Zahra made a surging run towards the byline but his cross was easily saved by Haber.
The champions were now seeing more of the ball but their incursions, especially down the wings, were easily repelled by Birkirkara who were more dangerous on the counter.
This was evident when, four minutes from half-time, Eliandro released Joseph Zerafa who ran towards the byline before picking out Ledesma. The Brazilian was completely unmarked but his first-time flick flashed against the side-netting.
Valletta’s defensive woes were exposed again a minute later when Zerafa’s outswinging cross from near the byline flew towards Eliandro who looked certain to score but Cini, who had initially dashed off his line, dived backwards to push away the Brazilian’s, thus avoiding a certain goal.
Inside the opening two minutes of the second half, Fenech cut in from the right but his ferocious drive was high.
Valletta levelled 12 minutes into the second half. Nafti was the provider as his set-piece cross was met by Caruana whose header had the better of Haber.
Fenech went close with another dangerous shot while Shawn Bajada lifted the ball just over the bar from inside the box after good work by Elford-Alliyu.
It was Birkirkara who regained the lead with 21 minutes left. Ryan Camenzuli, on a substitute, made headway on the left before putting in a low cross that rolled to the unmarked Herrera who blasted home.
Haber denied Valletta an equaliser when saving the Bajada’s long-range screamer.
There was another minor scare for the Stripes when Kooh Sohna’s curling drive landed wide of the far post after taking a deflection. From the ensuing corner, taking by Nafti, Elford-Alliyu nodded over.
In a swift breakaway, Birkirkara caught Valletta off balance as Liliu advanced but Luke Dimech swung out an arm to halt the Brazilian’s progression.
The Stripes called for a red card but referee Mario Apap only cautioned the Valletta defender
VALLETTA – Y. Cini, A. Zahra (R. Kooh Sohna), J. Caruana, L. Dimech, A. Nafti (L. Montebello), I. Azzopardi, R. Camilleri, R. Fenech (I. Zammit), H. Faria, L. Elford, S. Bajada.
BIRKIRKARA – J. Haber, M. Bissi Da Silva, A. Mendoza, N. Vukanac, R. Ledesma (L. Grech), E. Gonzaga (E. Morais), J. Zerafa (R. Camenzuli), Z. Muscat, R. Scicluna, E. Herrera, E. Agius
Date: 09.08.14 Time: 19:30 Venue: National Stadium
Scorers: 16′ E. dos Santos Gonzaga, 57′ J. Caruana, 69′ E. Herrera.
Yellow Cards: H. Faria, L. Dimech, R. Scicluna
Referee: Mario Apap