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Win for Birkirkara in low-key encounter

Photo: Matthew MirabelliPhoto: Matthew Mirabelli

Mosta 0 Birkirkara 1

Birkirkara cut the gap on leaders Valletta to two points, making their opponents Mosta pay for the penalty in low-key encounter.

Birkirkara looked the more cohesive of the two sides and with midfield congested they made inroads down the flanks. Ryan Camezuli tested waters inside the first three minutes with a rising shot that Justin Haber touched over the bar after the Stripes had a penalty shout turned down by the referee when Dimech seemed to handle the ball as he tried to bring it down in the box following Mifsud Triganza's cross.

Birkirkara dominated possession in the opening stages and 10 minutes later, Haber palmed a ferocious Mifsud Triganza shot around the post.

Mosta looked dangerous on the break through Daniel Bogdanovic and Obinna Obiefule. It was a quick one-two combination between these protagonists that undid the Stripes' rearguard after 28 minutes bu the former Blackpool striker dragged his effort wide.

For all their running, Birkirkara's passing was often erratic and Mosta's pressing game made it hard for the Stripes midfielders to get the ball to their front players and Paul ammit's men reverted to hopeful long-term cross from halfway line in a bid to pick up the strikers.

And for the rest of the first-half, it looked as if the match had fallen into a lull.After the break, D'Amato ditched their conserative tactics throwing Danail Mitev into the fray at the place of Compagnoli. But it was Jhonnattann's pace that instigated a real sense of urgency for Birkirkara soon after the interval. The Brazilian bore down on the left channel before passing the ball to Mifsud Triganza in the middle but the striker's weak shot caused no trouble to Haber.

But in the 52nd minute, Mosta lost all sense of discipline when Onyii Chiemeka needlessly gave away a foul in the box when he hauled Mifsud Triganza to the ground. Referee Trustan Farrugia Cann pointed to the spot and Jhonnattann showed no nerves as he converted the penalty with aplomb.

Six minutes later, Rowen Muscat served Mifsud Triganza in the box but his strike whizzed across the face of goal.

In the 68th minute, Zongo made the impossible when he failed to connect to a ball by Obiefule after Bogdanovic showed some deft footwork on the right flank to set the Nigerian up in the box.

Mosta finally freed themselves from their chains, and were now also able to play their game. After 75 minutes, Zongo left Muscat sleeping on the right and got the ball down the box before dinking the ball into the area but Nikola Vukanac cleared the danger.

Few moments later, anxiety coursed through the Mosta fans and players when Haber's attempt clearance hit Jhonnattann and the ball flew just outside.

When everything pointed to a hard-fought win for Birikara, Mosta almost struck a killer blow in stoppage time. Midfielder Aboulezz nodded a free-kick into the path of Chiemeka and Gauci flapped as tried to clear the danger but Muscat came to his side's rescue to clear the Nigerian's effort off the line much to the delight of the Stripes players and fans.

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