Birkirkara brace propel them to 17th cup success

Published: 27-04-2024 21:03
Birkirkara lifting their 17th Assikura Women's Knock-Out trophy. - (c) Craig Camilleri

HIBERNIANS                0

BIRKIRKARA                2

Rapa 13', Saliba 75' 

A goal in each half inspired Birkirkara to victory as they lift this year’s cup for a record 17th time.

Valentina Rapa opened the score for the Stripes before Sara Saliba doubled the lead in the second half as the Stripes complete the domestic treble, having won both league and Super Cup already.

As expected, Hibernians started with veteran goalkeeper Sharon Costantino between the sticks instead of Maya Muscat while young defender Amber Galea was also missing out.

Yolande Attard, who sat out from last week’s semi-final against Swieqi United, was given the nod with Nicole Sciberras wearing the captain’s armband instead of the injured Martina Borg.

On the other hand, Birkirkara fielded another former Malta goalkeeper in Tonina Dimech as their number one selection Janice Xuereb is recovering from an ACL injury.

Arianna Del Moral, double scorer in their Super Cup triumph in December against Swieqi United, was deployed from the start.

Marta Grosso almost put the Stripes ahead after just four minutes just to see her header go inches after Sharon Constantino failed to block her effort.

Moments later, Costantino was forced into action with a brilliant save to keep Veronique Mifsud at bay who let fly a strike from the edge of the area.

The Stripes made their pressure count when Valentina Rapa connected with an Ann-Marie Said’s freekick and beat Costantino.

Mifsud tried her luck again, but for the second time she could not beat Costantino as her long-range effort sailed over the bar.

Costantino blocked a Sara Saliba’s header from close-range as Birkirkara were looking to double their lead in the first-half.

Ann-Marie Said tried to surprise the Hibernians’ goalkeeper with a left-footed effort strike from long distance but could not find the target.

Sara Saliba missed a flurry of quickfire chances as Birkirkara continue to press for a second.

First, her header from a corner-kick was blocked by Costantino before ricocheting on the crossbar and rolling out.

Moments later, Costantino produced a fantastic save to deny Saliba from outside the area before the latter saw her close-range strike blocked by the Hibs' goalkeeper again.

After change of ends, Hibs made two changes with Nyorah Celeste and Amber Galea coming on.

However, Celeste’s game lasted just seven minutes after picking up an apparent serious injury, making way for Rodianne Zerafa who was making her season debut after coming back from a long-term absence due to an ACL injury herself.

A huge relief for Saliba who finally managed to find a way to beat Costantino, capitalising on a back-heel assist by Arianna Del Moral as Birkirkara doubled their lead.

HIBERNIANS - Costantino; N. Geren, C. Ellul, A. Busuttil, K. Chetcuti, S. Urpani (57 A. Galea), Y. Attard (57 N. Celeste) (69 R. Zerafa), K. Norkus, L. Ayres, N. Sciberras, A. Espitia.

BIRKIRKARA - Dimech; A. Said, S. Farrugia, A. Sultana (90 S. Francalanza), V. Mifsud (78 E. Garcia), C. Zammit, M. Grosso, A. Del Moral (78 G. Zahra), C. Rogers, V. Rapa, S. Saliba (90 A. Vassallo).

Referee: Jo-Anna Vassallo.

Yellow cards: Sciberras, Espitia (H); Farrugia (B).

Images copyright Craig Camilleri.