Qormi maintained alive hopes of securing a place in the Championship Pool as they returned to winning ways, defeating Mqabba 4-1.
They now move to just one point behind sixth-placed Balzan who however have a game in hand. Mqabba, on the other hand, remain eighth on 20 points and are now sure of playing in the Relegation Pool.
Jorge Pereira da Silva was back for Qormi after serving a two-match ban while Mqabba lacked central defender Branislav Timotic.
Qormi took the lead on the 8th minute when Joseph Farrugia released Joseph Chetcuti on the left. The latter’s shot was partially saved by Calleja and Jorge Pereira da Silva tapped the ball home from close range.
On the 20th, Qormi were awarded a penalty as referee Paul Caruana noticed a foul by Kris Calleja on Jorge Pereira. However Joseph Farrugia’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by the Mqabba goalkeeper.
Three minutes in the second half, Marlon Briffa went close with an angled shot from the right after stealing the ball off Vincent Koaudio. Three minutes later, Calleja rushed to the edge of the area to block a Jorge Pereira da Silva effort with the ball ending into a corner. From the resulting corner, Vincent Koaudio headed high.
Qormi doubled the score on 52 minutes when off a cross by Jorge Pereira da Silva from the left, Jonathan Bonding headed the ball home.
A Joseph Farrugia freekick for Qormi on 54 minutes was parried by Calleja. On 63 minutes, Jorge Pereira wasted an excellent opportunity when he tried to serve Chetcuti rather than trying to conclude with a defender clearing the ball into safety.
Jorge Pereira da Silva scored a third goal on 72 minutes when he concluded a solo effort by chipping the ball over goalkeeper Kris Calleja.
Mqabba played the last fifteen minutes in ten men as Julian Briffa abandoned the pitch injured after coach Clive Mizzi had performed the three substitutions.
However ten minutes from time, Mqabba pulled one back when off a pass by Marko Potezica from the right, Thiago Mazzitelli failed to control and John Nwoba placed the ball at the back of the net.
Three minutes from time, Mqabba had Mark Anthony Psaila sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Koaudio.
One minute in added time, Qormi added another goal as Triston Caruana served substitute Caio Garcia Suguino who managed to beat the Mqabba goalkeeper with a good shot from inside the area.
Jorge Pereira da Silva was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MQABBA Kris Calleja, Pierre Grima, Marko Potezica, Julian Briffa, Marlon Briffa (57′ John Nwoba), David Azzopardi (46′ Claudio Calleja), Thiago dos Santos Mazzitelli, Mauro Bonnici, David Fenech, Ryan Sammut (23′ Mark Anthony Psaila), Bojan Mamic.
Subs not used: Franklin Azzopardi, John Paul Muscat, Rene Duca, Clayton Micallef.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Asst. Coach: Renzo Kerr Cumbo
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo (76′ Luke Sciberras), Joseph Chetcuti (79′ Kenneth Scicluna), Joseph Farrugia, Jonathan Bondin, Jorge Pereira da Silva (73′ Caio Garcia Suguino), Triston Caruana, Kris Thackray, Abubakar Bello-Osagie, Vincent Kouadio Adioumani.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Ranier Buhagiar, Federico Mirarchi, Stephen Wellman.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: J. Pereira, K. Calleja, Psaila
Red Cards: 87′ Mark Psaila
Scorers: 8′ Jorge Pereira da Silva (Q); 52′ Jonathan Bondin (Q); 72′ Jorge Pereira da Silva (Q); 80′ John Nwoba (M); 90+1′ Caio Garcia Suguino (Q)
Sliema Wanderers could only earn a point in a 1-1 draw with Hamrun Spartans, therefore failing to move even closer to securing a place in the Championship Pool. They lie in fourth place, just three points ahead of seventh-placed Qormi.
For the Wanderers, this was the third consecutive draw after the games against Valletta and Tarxien. On the other hand, the Spartans, for the first time under the guidance of new coach Stefan Sultana, collect a point after losing two games but have now gone six matches without a win.
The Blues had Cameroonian striker Anicet Eyenga but lacked Josef Mifsud, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ryan Grech and Danial Mitev while Andrew Decesare is yet to make his debut. The Spartans, on the other hand, were in full strength, except for Roderick Fenech.
Hamrun managed to take the lead on 17 minutes thanks to direct freekick by Massimo Grima which gave goalkeeper Henry Bonello no chance.
The Wanderers’ reaction was rather weak and it was only just before the end of the first half that they created a good opportunity but Ryan Fenech hit wide when served by Eyenga from the left.
Sliema equalised eight minutes in the second half when Ryan Fenech served Alex Muscat on the right and the latter slotted the ball past goalkeeper Omar Borg.
On 63 minutes, Ribeiro released Gaetan Spiteri on the right and off the latter’s pass, Dene Shields had a first attempt blocked by Bonello. Off the rebound, Shields had another shot parried by the Sliema custodian. Ten minutes later, Dene Shield hit high off a cross by Kevin Sammut from the right. On the other side of the pitch, Emiliano Lattes advanced on the left but his low shot was neutralised by Borg on 77 minutes.
Two minutes from time, Henry Bonello performed a good save on a Massimo Grima freekick. A minute later, a diagonal shot by Jerry Ani, served by Trevor Cilia, on the right scraped past the post.
Alex Muscat was voted BOV Player of the Match.
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, Nikola Bogdanovic, Mark Scerri (88′ Ryan Dalli), Anicet Eyenga (83′ Jermiah Ani), Steve Bezzina, Trevor Cilia, Ryan Fenech, Rumen Galabov, Emiliano Lattes, Beppe Muscat.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Dejan Vukovic, Paolo Dandolo, Glen Chircop, Cleavon Frendo.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Asst. Coach: Saviour Debono Grech
HAMRUN Omar Borg, Steve Bonnici (72′ Daniel Zerafa) Gianluca Calabretta, Ronni Hartvig, Matthew Gauci, Massimo Grima, Lee James Agius (78′ David Camilleri), Kevin Sammut, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro, Dene Shields, Gaetan Spiteri (84′ Rupert Mangion).
Subs not used: Alvin Cacciattolo, Luke Grech, Glenn Azzopardi, Ryan Spiteri.
Coach: Stefan Sultana
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Grima, Fenech, Gauci, Ribeiro
Scorers: 17′ Massimo Grima (H); 53′ Alex Muscat (S)