Trevor Cilia's goal in Birkirkara FC's 1-0 win against Valletta FC may well prove to be the most important strike of the Maltese season as the Stripes home in on the title.
The nippy winger's goal helped the side he joined from Floriana FC in the summer of 2008 go four points clear of their opponents at the top of the championship group. He scored two more against in the weekend's 3-0 win against Sliema Wanderers FC to ensure that Birkirkara maintain a comfortable advantage with four rounds to go.
"The two goals against Sliema were very important, because it means that we kept up the pressure on Valletta," the 26-year-old Cilia told UEFA.com. "At this point, we are in the right state of mind to believe that we can go on and win the title." Indeed, the title looks like it is theirs for the losing.
The importance of Cilia's 19th-minute strike against Valletta cannot be understated. "I will always treasure this goal," he said. "Maybe it will decide the title. Being a former Floriana player, I still vividly recall the tense derbies we played against Valletta, so scoring against them has an extra-special feeling."
That Paul Zammit's Birkirkara are so close to claiming a third league title is a major turn up for the books. Valletta – boasting Dutch coach Ton Caanen and former FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC striker Jordi Cruyff – had looked clear favourites for a 20th crown before the season got under way.
However, there could yet be a sting in the tail. The two sides will meet in the final game of the season, and should Birkirkara drop more points in their upcoming games against Qormi FC, Hibernians FC and Tarxien Rainbows FC than Valletta do in their fixtures against Hibernians, Sliema and Qormi, a dramatic dénouement could ensue.
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