The Malta Independent 8 December 2021, Wednesday

Premier League: Birkirkara hand champions second successive defeat

Chris Cassar Sunday, 22 August 2021, 07:13 Last update: about 5 months ago

The champions’ dismal start got even worse yesterday as Hamrun Spartans suffered their second successive defeat, this time against Birkirkara.

As happened in the opening match against Valletta, Hamrun once again took the lead yesterday but failed to maintain it as the Stripes turned the tide in their favour.

Although still in the early stages of the season the champions are in for a rough time and the stop for the national team commitments could be beneficial for coach Mark Buttigieg and the rest of the Spartans clan.

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The Spartans were and are still considered as the favourites to retain the title, but two defeats in the opening two matches and already six-points behind the same Birkirkara and Valletta, the situation is anything but rosy for the Sapartans.

Both sides made their intentions clear from the start, going all out for an early lead.

Both teams pressed high in midfield and the opening minutes were frantic to say the least with both sides having penalty appeals turned down by referee Farrugia Cann.

On 18 minutes Joseph Mbong, who was yesterday facing his brother Paul who was in the Stripes’ first eleven, had a good run but his effort was a central one and Fernandes saved easily. Sixty seconds later El Bakhtaoui again tested Fernandes, and this time the Portuguese goalkeeper had to show all his worth to save.

On the half hour Hamrun took a deserved lead when Joseph Mbong gave an inch perfect pass towards Ailton Soares who all alone in front of Fernandes made no mistake.

Birkirkara had a good reaction levelling matters on 40 minutes when Luke Montebello shot home a Yannick Yankam cross.

At the start of the second half Birkirkara had a slight edge over their opponents and on 58 minutes scored what proved to be the winner when a from a freekick action, the Hamrun defence failed to clear, and Falcone was on hand to shoot home.

The Spartans did make a reaction but the Stripes defence was unbeatable yesterday and the Spartans lost their flair in their frantic attempts to level matters.

In stoppage time Birkirkara were even reduced to ten men when Bonanni was sent off, but the Spartans had no time and no power left to save the match.

Photos: Domenic Aquilina

 

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