STA LUCIA 0
Tarabai 36 pen., 61
Luis Edison ‘Tarabai’ could not have had a better return to Birkirkara’s starting formation as the Brazilian striker netted a well-taken brace to help his side overcome Sta Lucia at the Centenary Stadium.
The Stripes headed into the match under intense pressure following Monday’s surprising 3-2 defeat to Gudja United and they desperately needed one of their star signings to take a guiding role and the Brazilian duly responded to the call.
In fact, it was Tarabai who procured and converted the penalty that put the Stripes ahead before sealing his team’s win with a second goal on 61 minutes to ensure his team get back to winning ways after two defeats and a draw and more importantly move to a mid-table position with ten points.
It was Sta Lucia who had the first effort on goal on 12 minutes when Rei Tachikawa tried his luck from the distance but goalkeeper Andrew Hogg was on hand to block.
Birkirkara should have taken the lead on 14 minutes when Caio Henrique sped past his marker and sent a low cross towards Tarabai who incredibly fire wide in front of a gaping goal.
The same combination was repeated a minute later and this time the Brazilian striker was blocked by Kevin Pinheiro’s tackle.
The match suddenly fell into a lull with scoring chances few and far between with the best opportunity following onto the feet of Caio who fired over from the edge of the area.
The stalemate was finally broken on 36 minutes when Tarabai was upended inside the area by Jamie Zerafa and from the spot the Brazilian sent Ryan Caruana the wrong way to score his first goal with the Birkirkara shirt.
Three minutes before the break Sta Lucia custodian Caruana almost regaled Birkirkara a second goal when his clearance was intercepted by Caio who ran past a defender before seeing his shot pushed over by the same goalkeeper.
In stoppage time, Cain Attard met Maurizio Vella’s cross but the defender was denied by the onrushing Caruana.
After the break, the match lost much of its entertaining fare as Birkirkara were seemingly happy to soak up the pressure and try to catch their opponents on the break while Sta Lucia were struggling to create openings in the Birkirkara defence.
Birkirkara doubled their lead just past the hour mark and it was again Tarabai who struck. Caio sped clear on the right and was upended by Daniel Agius. From the ensuing free-kick, Caio found Tarabai on the penalty spot and the Brazilian’s low shot was deflected past Caruana.
Sta Lucia tried to respond on 71 minutes but Gabriel Mentz’s inswinger was blocked by Hogg.
Two minutes later the Birkirkara no. 1 did well to keep out Carlos Torres’ firm header.
On 77 minutes, in a quick break, Caio ran through and round Caruana but his shot to an open goal was cleared away by Camilo Escobar.
Luis Edison of Birkirkara was named BOV Player of the match.