Darmanin halts Stripes’ stride
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Darmanin halts Stripes’ stride

Ħamrun Spartans defeated Birkirkara to maintain their European hopes alive. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Ħamrun Spartans defeated Birkirkara to maintain their European hopes alive. Photo: Jonathan Borg

BIRKIRKARA 0

ĦAMRUN SPARTANS 1

Darmanin 81

Substitute Ryan Darmanin came off the bench to score the winner which enabled Ħamrun Spartans to cruise to victory in their crucial encounter.

The Spartans had slightly the better of the exchanges initially as they always looked menacing going forward. Kristijan Naumovski was lucky not to be punished in the opening minutes when he completely missed a backpass from Nikola Vukanac. Fortunately for the Macedonian goalkeeper, the ball finished wide. This could have given the match a different twist.

Ħamrun had Criaco in buccanering mood with searing runs which caused problems to the Birkirkara rearguard. Cain Attard came in for Michael Mifsud in the final minutes as the Stripes’ intent to close their ranks further was more clear even if Marcelo de Siqueira was moved upfield.

The Spartans threatened again when Wilfried Domoraud’s cross from the right invited Darmanin to attack the open space in the middle but the striker was guilty of playing in Criaco instead of shooting and the chance went begging.

It looked only a matter of when not if Ħamrun would break the deadlock and they didn’t have to wait long to go ahead.

Nine minutes from time, the Ħamrun fans were in seventh heaven. Criaco retrieved possession and quickly released Darmanin who drilled his shot past Naumovski.

Birkirkara were shell-shocked and laboured to stage a reaction and their flailing spirits were brought down when Terence Agius was dismissed for elbowing an opponent.

Marco Criaco of Ħamrun Spartans was named BOV Player of the Match.

Standings provided by Sofascore LiveScore
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