Birkirkara registered a third successive win as they beat Floriana 3-1 to join the Greens in third place.
For Floriana, who ended the game in nine men after having two players sent off, this was another disappointing result as they have now gone five matches without a win.
The Stripes had the first attempt at goal on the 6th minute when Floriana goalkeeper Patrick Jansen intercepted a cross from the left by Paul Fenech before a Birkirkara striker could do any damage. Floriana replied with a Pablo Doffo freekick which was deflected by Reuben Gauci into a corner. On the 13th minute, Jansen blocked a Ryan Scicluna header, off a freekick by Shaun Bajada from the left.
Birkirkara managed to take the lead on 19 minutes when off a cross by Bajada, there was a clearance by Akoto, Gareth Sciberras took the rebound and served Shola Haruna Shodiya who dribbled past two Floriana defenders and his low fierce shot from outside the penalty area ended at the back of the net.
Floriana equalised on the 34th when off a Pablo Doffo freekick, Eric Akoto hit the upright with a header and off the rebound, another header by Malcolm Licari ended inside the empty net.
However the Stripes regained the lead two minutes from the end of the first half with a Nikola Vukanac header off a cross by Bajada.
Eight minutes in the second half, a Christian Caruana long-distance effort was turned into a corner by the Birkirkara goalkeeper. Three minutes later, Birkirkara appealed for a penalty after Jorge Santos Silva was apparently floored inside the penalty area but the referee waved play on.
On the 64th minute, Ryan Scicluna was unlucky to hit the woodwork after receiving a pass by Jorge Santos Silva. Four minutes later, Jansen neutralised a freekick by Rodrigo Pereira. On the other side of the pitch, on 78 minutes, Eric Akoto headed just wide off a cross by substitute Andre Grabowski.
Seven minutes from time, Manolito Micallef picked a second yellow card for Floriana and two minutes later, it was the turn of Eric Akoto to receive marching orders by referee Adrian Azzopardi after receiving a second yellow card.
But the game was not over yet as on the 90th minute, Birkirkara scored the third goal thanks to substitute Moises Avila Perez who hit home off a cross from the right by Jorge Santos Silva.
Shola Haruna Shodiya was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Ryan Scicluna (76’ Ryan Camenzuli), Rodrigo Pereira, Nikola Vukanac, Joseph Zerafa, Angus Buhagiar, Gareth Sciberras, Paul Fenech, Shaun Bajada, Jorge Santos Silva (90’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Shola Shodiya Haruna (87’ Moises Avila Perez).
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Fabian Zammit, Michael Camilleri, Alan Tabone.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Peter Pullicino
FLORIANA Patrick Jansen, Eric Akoto, Owen Bugeja, John Mintoff, Pablo Doffo (65’ Andre Grabowski), Manolito Micallef, Alandson Da Silva, Duncan Pisani (44’ Christian Caruana), Joseph Borg, Clyde Borg (54’ Ivan Woods), Malcolm Licari.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Thomas Paris, Ryan Darmanin, Brooke Farrugia.
Coach: Michael Woods
Assistant Coach: Frank Schembri
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Zerafa, Micallef, Caruana, Woods, Akoto, Scicluna, Vukanac
Red Cards: 83′ Manolito Micallef, 85′ Eric Akoto
Scorers: 19’ Shola Shodiya Haruna (B). 34’ Malcolm Licari (F), 43’ Nikola Vukanac (B), 90′ Moises Avila Perez (B).
Hibernians scored twice in the first half to beat Sliema Wanderers 2-1 and move two points behind leaders Valletta and eight points ahead of third-placed Floriana and Birkirkara.
The Wanderers, on the other hand, stay in fifth place three points behind the latter two.
Former Sliema Wanderers midfielder Jackson Lima Siqueira was back for Hibernians after serving a one-match ban. On the other hand, Beppe Muscat, Rumen Galabov and Ryan Fenech returned for the Wanderers.
Hibernians took the lead on 18 minutes when off a Clayton Failla corner from the right, Edison Luis dos Santos rose high to head home, anticipating goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
On the half-hour, the Paolites doubled the score as Edison Luis dos Santos beat Bonello off a cross from the right by Edward Herrera.
The Wanderers replied with a Danial Mitev freekick which was tipped into a corner by Muscat on 34 minutes. The Bulgarian midfielder then served Emiliano Lattes on the right but his diagonal shot ended wide on the 38th minute.
Edward Herrera then concluded a fine move with a shot from the right which scraped past the far post and one minute from half-time, Tarabai went close once again with a low shot from the edge of the area.
Edison Luis dos Santos missed a good opportunity six minutes in the second half when served by Failla from the left.
The Wanderers pulled one back five minutes from time when off a freekick by Danial Mitev, there was a short clearance by a defender and Cleavon Frendo placed the ball at the back of the net with a fine volley.
Edison Luis dos Santos was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Jonathan Pearson, Rodolfo Soares, Jason Vandelannoite, Bjorn Kristensen, Andrew Cohen (92′ Ryan Camilleri), Clayton Failla, Jackson Lima Siqueira, Edward Herrera (70′ Peter Anizoba), Aaron Xuereb, Edison Luis dos Santos (84′ Marcelo Dias).
Subs not used: Nicholas Grima, Steve Pisani, Adrian Pulis, Johann Bezzina.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Richard Mercieca
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat (55′ Clifford Gatt Baldacchino), Nikola Bogdanovic (62′ Anicet Eyenga), Josef Mifsud, Ryan Grech, Danial Mitev, Steve Bezzina (33′ Cleavon Frendo), Ryan Fenech, Rumen Galabov, Emiliano Lattes, Beppe Muscat.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Andrew Caligari, Ryan Dalli, Jeremiah Ani.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Asst. Coach: Saviour Debono Grech
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Kristensen, Anizoba, Dias
Scorers: 18′ Edison Luis dos Santos (H); 30′ Edison Luis dos Santos (H); 85′ Cleavon Frendo (S)