Stalemate dominated by inclement weather
12/11/22 - Centenary Stadium
Gzira United and Birkirkara had to settle for a draw after the match was dominated by a heavy down pour. The match was suspended in the 63rd minute, in view that the pitch was waterlogged and unplayable. 48 minutes later, the match resumed, after the referee accompanied by the club officials of both teams, inspected the bounce of the ball on the pitch and deemed it fit for play.
The match was a balanced affair with Birkirkara dominating possession for certain parts of the match, but Gzira operated with their usual dangerous counterattacks. When the match was suspended Gzira were passing through their best patch of play. Both teams created a number of good goal scoring opportunities and both goals which came early in the match helped to intensify the match further and make it an entertaining and interesting contest to watch.
With the point earned, Gzira maintained their three-point advantage over Birkirkara and consolidated second place in the table for another match day. With the results of today’s matches, Hibernians have now moved into third place within one point of the Maroons.
Today’s match started off with both teams warming up with some feeble attempts at goal. However, Gzira managed to take an early lead to set the match into full pace. In the 10th minute, a cross by Gzira’s Kolega from the left nearly half-way down the pitch, found Maxuell Maja heading home after anticipating both Birkirkara’s defender Pepe and keeper Nava..
Gzira could have increased the score when Bohrer’s long range freekick hit the upright with B’kara’s keeper fending off the ball with difficulty to a corner.
In the 20th minute Birkirkara equalized. A pass by Gzira’s Muscat was intercepted by Mbong of B’kara in midfield, who advanced upfield, to drive a low left shot in the corner of the net, beating Gzira’s goalkeeper Zarkov.
The start of the second half coincided with heavy rain flooding most the pitch. Before the match was suspended, Gzira had two good opportunities to take the lead. A run by Maia from Gzira’s own half found an assist to Jefferson, whose shot was saved by B’Kara’s substitute goalkeeper Sylla, with the help of a pool of water which slowed the pace of the ball. Then in the 60th minute, another assist cross by Gzira’s Maia, found Jefferson’s header being saved with difficulty by B’kara’s keeper Sylla.
In the 64th minute at 16:12 hours, the match resumed with a freekick from the right by B’Kara’s Tulimieri creating panic in Gzira’s penalty area and subsequently in the 70th and 73rd minutes, Gzira had attempts by Dias and Jefferson neutralized by Birkirkara’s back line.
The last 10 minutes of the match delivered more emotions, were both teams could have clinched victory. Jefferson advanced from the left flank and his pass was met by Pisani, whose close-range effort was saved with great difficulty by Birkirkara’s custodian. Birkirkara responded when substitute Cabrera’s shot was saved with difficulty by Gzira’s goalkeeper Zarkov and from the rebound defender Tabone cleared in extremis the ball off the line.
The last 2 minutes of additional time were played out by both teams to earn a well-earned point each, with the stalemate being a fair reflection of proceedings.
This draw ensured that Gzira United FC enter the two-week international break for Malta’s commitments, in second position in the table, to resume back challenges at the start December, for the top placings of the Premier League.
Birkirkara 1 Gzira United 1
Jefferson De Assis
54’ Steve Pisani for Nikolai Muscat