MALTA FUTSAL LEAGUE: Swieqi United 5-3 Birkirkara

Swieqi United’s Futsal team continued their winning start to the Malta FA Futsal League with a nervy 5-3 win over Birkirkara on Tuesday night at Corradino Sports Pavilion, with a hattrick from debutant Dusan Rakic.

Three foreign players made their debut after International Transfer Certificates arrived and that gave the boys in blue a boost after their opening day win. Maxi Navarro, Uruguay international, Brazilian Leo de Souza and captain, Dusan Rakic of Serbia all bolstered the Swieqi United roster.

The match started tentatively with Swieqi United having the better of the early opportunities. Bobo Marev who recently turned 40 and still going strong testing the goalkeeper from kick off.

Swieqi pressed but the opportunities were few and far between. Leo Muscat almost added to his goal last week with a counter attack down the left and Rakic had a left foot shot saved well by the goalkeeper.

Birkirkara found some rhythm in the middle of the first half but found Jacob Cipriott in fine form in goal for Swieqi, making two good saves to keep the score at 0-0.

Set plays key

The deadlock was broken from an indirect free kick nicely worked for Rakic to power home, before another set piece, this time a corner allowed the Serbian to finish into the far corner to double Swieqi’s lead.

Good pressure and a counter attack led to the third as Maxi Navarro, fresh from facing World Champions Argentina and scoring in that match, won the ball back on half way before a one-two with Leo Muscat to give Swieqi a well-deserved 3-0 half time lead.

Birkirkara struck first in the second half giving them a bit of hope at 3-1. A goal from a free kick placed in at the second post beyond the impressive Cipriott.

It didn’t last long though, as Leo Muscat once again provided for his team mate, this time is was vice-captain Andre Ciancio the beneficiary who slotted in after Muscat worked well down the right, driving into space before squaring the ball perfectly for Ciancio to make it 4-1 and restore the 3-goal lead.

This is futsal…

A nervy finish to the match was set up when Birkirkara converted a corner into the far post with three minutes left; a solid left-foot strike beat Cipriott and he may be a bit disappointed he didn’t get something on it.

If there was any doubt, he certainly redeemed himself seconds later as a penalty was awarded for his foul inside the box, but a superb save kept the score at 4-2 going into the last two minutes. A third for Birkirkara may well have given them the impetus to turn the game around as they were growing in confidence.

The third came, but with 20 seconds on the clock. The 10 metre penalty was too little too late and as they pressed for an equaliser, Maxi Navarro broke free and set up Dusan Rakic for his hattrick and the three points for Swieqi United. 

“We knew this match was going to be much harder than last week even though we had three very good players added to the team. Birkirkara are a very competitive team and we had to raise our game as a collective to get the points,” said Shaw.

“Dusan [Rakic] and Cipi [Jacob Cipriott] were outstanding, but it was a team performance that got the job done. We are still growing and have a lot to learn before we face Tarxien next week and then champions Valletta.”

On Friday Swieqi United U21s play UOM Academy in their first match of the season and next week the seniors face Tarxien Rainbows on Tuesday while the u21s have a tough match against Luxol on Thursday.

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