SLIEMA WANDERERS 2
J. Galea-7, J. Mintoff-6.5, J. Carvajal-6, C. Zappa-7 (84 A. Stelitano), J. Cisotti-8, G. Barone-7, J. Cruz Gill-6, P. Xuereb-6, C. Pani-6.5, G. Adamovic-6 (33 A. Satariano-6.5), J.P. Farrugia-7.
A. Hogg-5.5, Jefferson-5 (82 M. Mifsud), E. Pepe-5.5, M. Guillaumier-6.5, M. Vella-6, K. Zammit-6, Y. Yankam-6, F. Falcone-5, C. Henrique-6, O. Carniello-5, I. Ntow-5.5.
Referee Ishmael Barbara.
Yellow card Cruz Gill.
BOV Player of the match Juri Cisotti (Sliema Wanderers).
A stunning strike from Juri Cisotti completed a remarkable fightback from Sliema Wanderers as the Blues came from behind to upset Birkirkara at the Hibs Stadium.
It was a remarkable turnaround to a match that had looked well in Birkirkara’s grasp as the Stripes for much of the opening 40 minutes were all over the Wanderers and should have had a bigger margin than just Caio’s opener.
Time and again such profligacy is duly punished in football and the Wanderers managed to do the unthinkable when after levelling matters just before half-time through Jean Paul Farrugia they went on to clinch winner courtesty of Cisotti special to pick up three priceless points that lifts them further clear of the relegation zone.
Birkirkara were quick off the blocks and it looked as though they had made the perfect start after seven minutes when Yannick Yankam played in Federico Falcone who slid the ball past the onrushing Jake Galea before Caio Henrique pushed the ball into the net. However, the ‘goal’ was annulled as Caio was in an offside position.
The Stripes maintained their ascendancy and on 19 minutes Caio sped clear on the right and sent a low cross towards the far post towards Isaac Ntow. The Nigerian just managed to flick the ball towards goal but Gareth Barone was on hand to clear.
Sliema were almost punished on 25 minutes when Jake Galea misjudged Maurizio Vella’s delivery from a corner with the ball heading into the net only for Goran Adamovic to clear the danger.
That turned out to be Adamovic’s final contribution as the Serb defender was replaced by Alex Satariano after 32 minutes.
Falcone remained Birkirara’s main attacking threat and nine minutes from the break he was picked by Caio but his curler flashed wide.
Yankam had an even better chance a minute later when he was picked by Caio on the penalty spot but fired wide.
Birkirkara finally found the breakthrough and it came from a piece of genius from Matthew Guillaumier as they young midfielder picked Caio with a cute lob and the nippy winger rifled the ball past Galea.
But Sliema soon hit back and two minutes from the break Claudio Zappa picked Jean Paul Farrugia who beat Hogg from close in to restore parity.
Ten minutes into the second half, Falcone should hae restored Birkirkara’s lead when he latched onto Ntow’s cross but he heades straight into the hands of Galea.
The Sliema goalkeeper again distinguished himself just past the hour when he punched away another Falcone conclusion.
Birkirkara were growing more and more frustrated and that turned into anguish 15 minutes from time when the Wanderers completed the turnaround.
Juri Cisotti picked the ball 30 metres out and let fly an absolute screamer that flew into the net past a stunned Hogg.