Day 29 Valletta 2 Birkirkara 0 Published on: 22-04-2012

Valletta stayed on course to win the BOV Premier League title after a 2-0 win over Birkirkara this afternoon restored their six-point lead over Hibs with only three games left.

The Stripes had held Valletta to a 1-1 draw in their last meeting but their hopes of taking something from this clash vanished in nine  minutes in the second half when, after Ousseni Zongo had doubled the Citizens' lead, Birkirkara defender Rodrigo Pereira was sent off for retaliation.

It was Valletta who threatened to forge ahead after 10 minutes. Roaming in the inside-right channel, Ousseni Zongo passed to Roderick Briffa inside the box but the Malta midfielder's high-riser ended over the bar after taking a deflection.

After a somewhat scrappy opening, Valletta took a measure of control. Their better start was rewarded on 15 minutes when Zongo, now operating on the right, burst past his marker before serving Briffa who promptly sent a through-ball to the sprinting Michael Mifsud who side-footed the ball past Reuben Gauci, the Birkirkara goalkeeper.

Precise passing and brisk movement were behind Valletta's opener but the Citizens were unable to build on their early breakthrough.

Birikirkara took a while to get going. They created their first chance after 21 minutes when Ryan Camenzuli made a good run into the box from the left but fired over.

The Stripes began to see more of the ball as the first half progressed but they hardly stretched their opponents.

Ten minutes from the end of the first half, Ryan Scicluna, running in from the right, swept across Steve Borg but out came Hogg to clear.

At half-time, there was a brief commotion in the side of the enclosure occupied by the Valletta fans as a female supporter needed medical attention after falling over. The injured woman was eventually taken to hospital by ambulance.

Early in the second half, Birkirkara's Joseph Zerafa made a strong run through the left before hitting a fierce drive which was pushed away by Andrew Hogg, the Valletta goalkeeper.

Birkirkara raised their game at the start of the second half as the introduction of Shola Shodiya Haruna for Camenzuli bolstered their attacking threat. They threatened to equalise close to the hour when Bajada crossed the ball back for Zerafa whose drive took a deflection that unbalanced Hogg but the ball dropped wide of the far post.

In their next attack, Valletta doubled their lead, Zongo powering his way through down the left before drilling his shot past Gauci. Two nil down, Birkirkara suffered a further blow 21 minutes from time when Pereira was shown a straight red card for lunging into Briffa after the latter had tackled the Brazilian defender.

Briffa was cautioned for his foul.Valletta cantered through the remaining minutes as the 10-man Birkirkara found it hard to stage a reaction.

The Stripes came close to a consolation goal in stoppage time but Hogg pushed away a dangerous header by Spanish striker Moises Avila-Perez.

Michael Mifsud was named BOV player of the match.

VALLETTA - A. Hogg, D. Dos Santos (G. Agius), J. Caruana, I. Azzopardi, O. Zongo (A. Effiong), S. Borg, S. Panandetiguiri,  W. Barbosa,  R. Briffa (R. Bajada) , E. Agius, M. Mifsud.

BIRKIRKARA - R. Gauci, G. Sciberras, S. Bajada (M. Camilleri),  R. Scicluna, N. Vukanac, J. Zerafa, R. Camenzuli (H. Shola Shodiya), R. Pereira, R. Muscat, A. Buhagiar (P. Fenech), M. Avila Perez.

BOV Premier League
Date: 22-04-12     Time: 17:00    Venue: National Stadium

Scorers: 15'  Michael Mifsud, 61' O. Zongo

Yellow Cards: S. Bajada (B), S. Borg (V)

Red Cards: R. Pereira (B)

Man of Match: Michael Mifsud (V)

Referee: Kevin Azzopardi