Hibernians extended their unbeaten run with a fine 5-0 win over Birkirkara to keep the pace with leaders Valletta.
Hibs were a better side during the first half, taking a two-goal by the end of the first half. After both sides had a player sent off, the Paolites added another three goals.
The Stripes lacked the injured Dragan Perisic and the suspended Paul Fenech, Shaun Bajada and Moises Avila Perez. Diego Balbinot, Adrian Pulis and Jonathan Pearson were missing for the Paolites.
Hibernians managed to take the lead on 23 minutes when off a Clayton Failla freekick, Marcelo Dias headed the ball home past goalkeeper Jorge Mora.
Two minutes later, Ryan Camenzuli could have equalised but hit high off an inviting cross by Trevor Cilia from the right.
Hibs doubled the score two minutes in added time when off a cross by Marcelo Dias from the right, Andrew Cohen tried to connect but served Edward Herrera who tapped the ball home from close range.
Substitute Terence Vella was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a powerful first-time effort following a cross from the right ten minutes in the second half.
Both sides then ended in ten men on 66 minutes as refeee Malcolm Spiteri sent off Birkirkara’s Andrew Decesare and Hibs striker Marcelo Dias following an incident between the two. Decesare tackled Dias who reacted by pulling the Birkirkara defender down and the latter hit the Hibs striker.
The Paolites scored the third goal on 68 minutes when off a Clayton Failla cross from the right, Edison Luis dos Santos headed the ball past Mora.
Three minutes later, Clayton Failla increased the lead further with a powerful rising shot from the left which gave the Birkirkara goalkeeper no chance.
Substitute Leighton Grech went close with a powerful drive which was turned into a corner on 78 minutes.
A minute later, Birkirkara were awarded a penalty after a defender handled the ball inside the area. However Trevor Cilia’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by Mario Muscat.
Five minutes from time, Rodrigo Pereira was also given marching orders by the referee after receiving a second yellow card for a foul just outside the area.
Three minutes in stoppage time, Hibs scored the fifth goal when Edison Luis dos Santos concluded a good run on the right flank by rounding Jorge Mora, who had rushed out of the area, by serving Andrew Cohen who hit home from close range.
Clayton Failla was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera, Aaron Xuereb, Rodolfo Soares, Bjorn Kristensen (85’ Johann Bezzina), Clayton Failla, Andrew Cohen, Marcelo Dias, Steve Pisani (88’ Scott Chircop), Triston Caruana, Edison Luis dos Santos.
Subs not used: Luke Bonnici, Keith Tanti, Brandon Gatt, Brandon Muscat, Ryan Camilleri.
Coach: Mark Miller
Assistant Coach: Richard Mercieca
B’KARA Jorge Mora, Trevor Cilia (80’ Alan Tabone), Rodrigo Pereira, Gareth Sciberras, Ryan Camenzuli (46’ Terence Vella), Rowen Muscat, Joseph Zerafa, Ryan Scicluna, Shola Shodiya, Andrew Decesare, Angus Buhagiar (60’ Leighton Grech).
Subs not used: Aleksandar Canovic, Michael Camilleri, Matthew Bugeja, Antoine Borg.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant referees: Konrad Borg, Edward Spiteri
Fourth official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: Pereira
Red Cards: 65’ Andrew Decesare, 66’ Marcelo Dias, 85′ Rodrigo Pereira
Scorers: 23’ Marcelo Dias, 45+2’ Edward Herrera, 68’ Edison Luis dos Santos, 71’ Clayton Failla, 90+3′ Andrew Cohen
Mqabba returned to winning ways as a goal by Bojan Mamic early in the second half handed them the three points in the clash with Marsaxlokk. Clive Mizzi’s side now moves eighth, two points behind Balzan Youths.
Marsaxlokk, who welcomed back Clive Brincat and Sunday Eboh after both missed the last game through suspension, stay third from bottom on eleven points, one ahead of bottom-placed Mosta and Tarxien Rainbows.
Bojan Mamic had the first attempt at goal on the 5th minute but his shot ended just wide. A long-distance shot by Claudio Calleja was then neutralised by Christian Cassar on the 19th minute.
On 25 minutes, Mamic served Marko Potezica who however hit high. Branislav Timotic missed a good opportunity after controlling a good pass from the right by Shawn Magro but his conclusion from the edge of the area ended wide on 38 minutes. Four minutes later, a Malcolm Licari header, off a cross by Darrell Grech, was turned into a corner.
Mqabba forged ahead one minute in the second half when Bojan Mamic pounced on an erratic pass by Sacha Borg and slotted the ball past Christian Cassar.
On 69 minutes, Thiago Mazzitelli went close to double the score with a low shot from inside the area which however ended just wide.
Seven minutes from time, Jean Paul Farrugia managed to enter the penalty area but his conclusion ended incredibly wide.
Bojan Mamic was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MQABBA Kris Calleja, Pierre Grima, Marko Potezica, Branislav Timotic, Marlon Briffa, Thiago Mazzitelli (91’ Ryan Sammut), Claudio Calleja, Mauro Bonnici, Clayton Micallef, Bojan Mamic (87’ John Paul Muscat), Shawn Magro (46’ David Azzopardi).
Subs not used: Franklin Azzopardi, Mark Anthony Psaila, Charlot Attard, Mark Fenech.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Assistant Coach: Renzo Kerr Cumbo
M’XLOKK Christian Cassar, Modesto Valeriani, Patrick Borg, Clvie Brincat, Sacha Borg, Carlo Mamo, Sunday Eboh, Malcolm Licari, Gary Caruana (89’ Stefan Cutajar), Jean Paul Farrugia, Darrell Grech (75’ Kevin Polidano).
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Jean Claude Vella, Dylan Attard, Darren Attard, Paul Paris.
Coach: Anton Cremona
Assistant Coach: Louis Cutajar
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: M. Briffa, Mamo, Brincat, C. Calleja, C. Micallef
Scorers: 46’ Bojan Mamic