Tarxien Rainbows maintained their positive run as they came from behind to beat Marsaxlokk 4-2, therefore keeping the pace with leaders Valletta.
For Marsaxlokk, this was the second successive defeat after losing to Qormi last week. They remain on the 13-points mark together with Birkirkara and Hamrun Spartans who however have a game in hand.
The Rainbows welcomed back Sergio Pacheco De Oliviera but Justin Grioli was ruled out through suspension. Clive Brincat was missing for Marsaxlokk.
The Southseasiders had the first attempt at goal on the 8th minute, a cross from the right by Dylan Kokavessis was not held by David Cassar and off the rebound, Alfred Effiong’s conclusion was deflected into a corner.
A minute later, Marsaxlokk took the lead thanks to a direct freekick by Martin Deanov which gave goalkeeper David Cassar no chance.
Tarxien levelled matters on the 16th when off a Sergio Pacheco freekick from the right, Manuel Caruana placed the ball at the back of the net with a beautiful header.
Marsaxlokk could have regained the lead on 23 minutes with another freekick by Deanov but David Cassar performed a great save.
One minute later, Tarxien regained the lead thanks to a rising shot by Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira after a first attempt by Orosco Anonam was blocked by a defender.
The Rainbows extended the lead on 37 minutes when off a cross from the left by Ricardo Costa, Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues unleashed a powerful shot from the right which hit the upright before ending at the back of the net.
Marsaxlokk reduced the gap one minute from the end of the first half when Ruben Guerreiro Gravata, served by Alfred Effiong from the right, beat Cassar with a low shot from inside the area.
In added time, Tarxien could have restored a two-goal lead but Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira hit the posts when served from the right.
Six minutes in the second half, Alfred Effiong’s fine volley ended just over the bar following a cross from the right by Malcolm Licari. On the hour, off a cross by Ricardo Costa, Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira’s header was turned into a corner in style by Gauci. The Marsaxlokk goalkeeper was prominent with another fine save on a powerful shot by Sergio Pacheco.
Three minutes from time, Tarxien sealed the issue with a goal by Daniel Mariano Bueno who slammed the ball home after a good move by Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira inside the area.
Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.fotoincmalta.com
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M’XLOKK Reuben Gauci, Carlo Mamo, Gareth Sciberras, Martin Deanov, Malcolm Licari, Alfred Effiong, Rumen Galabov, Trevor Templeman, Dylan Kokavessis (70’ Sunday Eboh), Emil Yanchev (70’ Julio Alcorse), Ruben Gravata Guerreiro.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Peter Pullicino, Kevin Polidano, Gary Caruana, Andrew Spiteri.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
TARXIEN David Cassar, Steve Sadowski, Manuel Caruana, Everton Antonio Pereira, Ricardo Costa (62’ Daniel Mariano Bueno), Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues, Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira (88’ Ryan Mintoff), Mark Tanti (56’ Ryan Grech), Luke Vella Critien, Orosco Anonam, Lee Galea.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Gianluca Calabretta, Sergio Hili, Julian Vella.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Deanov, Anonam, Kokavessis, Galabov, Sergio, Guerreiro
Scorers: 9’ Martin Deanov (M); 16’ Manuel Caruana (T); 23’ Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira (T); 37’ Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues (T); 44’ Ruben Guerreiro Gravata (M); 87’ Daniel Mariano Bueno (T)
Meanwhile in the second match, Hibernians earned a point as they held Floriana in a 1-1 draw.
The Greens therefore failed to keep the pace with Tarxien and are now third, two points behind Tarxien and six behind leaders Valletta. Hibs, on the other hand, are still second from bottom.
The Paolites once again had a number of changes in the starting line-up with new recruit Paulo Jorge Fernandes Sereno making his debut Steve Pisani and Bjorn Kristensen were awarded a place in the starting line-up as Adrian Pulis, Triston Caruana and Matthew Tabone were all missing. Floriana, on the other hand, lacked Christian Caruana and Joseph Borg who were both suspended.
The Greens had the first attempt at goal on 13 minutes with Michael Mecerod testing Mario Muscat with a fine shot from the left.
However three minutes later, they were not to be denied when Michael Mecerod served Luke Agius and the latter’s diagonal shot from the right beat the Hibs custodian.
The Paolites equalised on the 26th minute when off a freekick, Matt Clarke headed the ball down for Jonathan Pearson whose rising shot gave Saidi no chance.
In added time, a long-distance shot by Ivan Woods was parried by Muscat.
On 63 minutes, a Ryan Darmanin header, off a cross by Ivan Woods from the left, was saved by the Hibs goalkeeper. A minute later, the former Sliema captain concluded a fine run on the left flank by hitting high from inside the area.
Finally on the 90th, substitute Paul McManus brought the best out of Lofti Saidi who neutralised his fine shot with a great save.
Michael Mecerod was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Matthew Gauci, Edward Herrera, Jonathan Pearson (61’ Jean Paul Farrugia), Matt Clarke (84’ Aaron Xuereb), Richie Hart, Zoran Levnaic, Andrew Cohen, Paulo Sereno (79’ Paul McManus), Steve Pisani, Bjorn Kristensen.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Warren Chircop, Yan Cauchi, Malcolm Vella.
Coach: Mark Miller
Assistant Coach: Edmond Lufi
FLORIANA Lofti Saidi, Manolito Micallef, Duncan Pisani, Tyrone Farrugia, Brian Said, Christian Cassar (56’ Clyde Borg), Pablo Doffo, Michael Mecerod, Luke Agius (59’ Mark Gauci), Ivan Woods, Ryan Darmanin.
Subs not used: Jurgen Micallef, Ivailo Sokolov, Owen Bugeja, Sacha Borg, Jermain Brincat.
Coach: Michael Woods
Assistant Coach: Todor Raykov
Referee: Esther Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: A. Cohen, R. Hart, M. Micallef, Woods, S. Pisani
Scorers: 16’ Luke Agius (F); 26’ Jonathan Pearson (H)