Day 30 Valletta 3 Bkara 3
Valletta’s comeback fell short of the desired three points as they lost further ground to leaders Hibernians.
Billed as a must-win for both sides, Birkirkara stunned the champions into complete silence just before half-time when they stage an excellent recovery after going a goal down in the early minutes.
Yet, Valletta drew on their commitment and character to drag themselves back into contention.
Zammit’s team were displaying excellent skills in administering their eighth-minute lead, when Michael Mifsud charged clear on the right before producing a teasing cross that flew across the face of goal.
The ball landed in the path of Romao Romeu whose pass for Santiago Malano had the latter expertly driving low into the net.
On the half hour mark, Valletta hit the post when Bonello clumsily mishandled a long-range shot from Leonardo Aguirre that nearly cost the Stripes a double deficit. Valletta could have given what might be a lasting twist on the proceedings, had Luke Montebello not hit the woodwork again from an open chance five minutes from half-time.
That miss turned out to be costly for the then rampant Lilywhites coming as it was shortly before half-time.
A minute later, Nikola Vukanac was at the end of an inviting cross by Dimitrov and hit a low shot into the corner. The goal came at the right psychological moment for Birkirkara as they started breathing freely.
A second goal was not long in the coming. From the right flank, Dimitrov played wide to Cain Attard whose measured ball from the left had Christian Bubalovic connecting to it, before the ball hit the back of the net.
Zammit risked Maximiliano Velasco, who was only certified to start on the bench, for Juan Gill Cruz as Romao dropped to the back four.
But the really telling substitution was effected after 73 minutes. Tomas Radzinevicius’s header soon after the Valletta player came in caught the Birkirkara defence surprisingly motionless as he served Velasco to bury the ball behind Bonello.
Valletta’s joy was short-lived as Romao’s challenge on Dimitrov was penalty by referee Mario Apap who opted for the maximum punishment. Herrera converted from the spot.
The tit-for-tat nature of the game persisted. Valletta made it 3-3 when Velasco made good progress on the right before poking the ball home.
Zammit’s men missed an inviting chance to snatch the winner at death, Radzinevicius fired a rising shot which Bonello fumbled as the Lithuanian striker, anticipating the goalkeeper’s hesitations, pounced on the ball only to fire across the face of goal.
Source – timesofmalta.com
VALLETTA – D. Barktus, L. Montebello, L. Cremona (T. Radinevicius), R. Camilleri, J. Borg, J. Caruana, J. Cruz Gill (M. Velasco), L. Aguirre, M. Mifsud, R. Romao, S. Malano.
BKARA – H. Bonello, E. Herrera, C. Bubalovic, G. Sciberras, M. Andelkovic, M. Guillaumier (E. Agius), N. Vukanac, J. Zerafa, G. Malan (V. Plut), C. Attard, S. Dimitrov (M. Alba)
Scorers: 8′ S. Malano, 74′ 80′ M. Velasco (V), 42′ N. Vukanac, 46′ C. Bubalovic, 76′ E. Herrera
Yellow Cards: C. Bubalovic, S. Dimitrov, M. Alba (B), R. Camilleri (V)
Referee: M. Apap.