Two goals in one minute mid-way through the first half paved the way for a second successive win for Mqabba in the Relegation Pool. A win which puts Clive Mizzi’s side just two points behind Qormi and two ahead of Hamrun Spartans.
Mqabba lacked the suspended Marko Potezica and John Nwoba while Clive Brincat and Trevor Templeman were missing for Marsaxlokk.
The Reds managed to take the lead on 21 minutes when off a pass by Thiago dos Santos Mazzitelli, Claudio Calleja hit home from close range.
A minute later, Mqabba doubled the score thanks to John Paul Muscat who received the ball on the left and slotted past goalkeeper Christian Cassar.
Marsaxlokk replied with a long-distance effort by Nemanja Stoskovic which was neutralised by Kris Calleja. On the other side of the pitch, John Paul Muscat received the ball from a freekick but his angled shot was parried by Cassar. Muscat then headed the ball high off a cross from the left by Mazzitelli just before half-time.
The Southseasiders held the initiative early in the second half but after going close with a Jean Paul Farrugia header on the 47th minute, they had to wait until the 80th when they threatened once again with a Farrugia effort which scraped past the post.
One minute in added time, Mqabba scored the third goal when they were awarded a penalty after Jonathan Xerri floored Marlon Briffa inside the area. From the penalty spot, Bojan Mamic converted.
David Fenech was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MQABBA Kris Calleja, Pierre Grima, Julian Briffa (71’ Ryan Sammut), Branislav Timotic, Mark Anthony Bonnici, Thiago dos Santos Mazzitelli, Claudio Calleja (84’ David Azzopardi), John Paul Muscat (60’ Marlon Briffa), Mauro Bonnici, David Fenech, Bojan Mamic.
Subs not used: Franklin Azzopardi, Omar Farrugia, Rene Duca, Clayton Micallef.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Asst. Coach: Renzo Kerr Cumbo
M’XLOKK Christian Cassar, Jermain Brincat, Sacha Borg (57’ Modesto Valeriani), Sunday Eboh, Jonathan Xerri, Gary Caruana, Jean Paul Farrugia, Luke Agius, Peter Taiye Oladotun, Nemanja Stoskovic, Alex Cesar Pedrozo.
Subs not used: Jurgen Muscat, Gabriel Buttigieg, Darrel Grech, Craig Debattista, Stefan Cutajar, Darren Attard.
Coach: Anton Cremona
Asst. Coach: Louis Cutajar
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: S. Borg, L. Agius, J. Briffa, M. Valeriani, J. Xerri
Scorers: 21’ Claudio Calleja (Mqa); 22’ John Paul Muscat (Mqa), 90+1’ Bojan Mamic (pen) (Mqa)
Meanwhile Floriana, for the first time under the guidance of coach Joe Brincat, returned to winning ways as they came back from one goal down to beat Balzan Youths 3-1. A win which puts the Greens back in third place although Birkirkara have a game in hand.
Eric Akoto, Manolito Micallef and Ivan Woods were back for Floriana after missing the last game but Duncan Pisani and John Mintoff were unavailable as both were serving a one-match ban. Balzan, on the other hand, lacked Clifton Ciantar, Dylan Grima and Miguel Ciantar.
The Greens had the first attempt at goal on the 10th minute with Pablo Doffo going close with a freekick which ended just over the bar.
Nikola Tasic then headed high off a Pedrinho freekick from the right two minutes from the end of the first half.
An incident as the players were heading to the tunnels led to Ivan Zammit being sent off by referee Andre Arciola.
Two minutes in the second half, Ryan Darmanin tested Camilleri with a low shot from inside the area following a cross by Christian Caruana from the right.
Three minutes later, Balzan Youths took the lead thanks to a great goal by Jamie Pace whose first-time effort gave goalkeeper Patrick Jansen no chance with the ball ending in the top left corner behind the Dutch goalkeeper.
Floriana levelled matters on 55 minutes when off a Pablo Doffo freekick, defender Roderick Farrugia past goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri for an own goal.
On the 57th, Ryan Darmanin tried his luck with a diagonal shot from the right ending just wide and four minutes later, another freekick by Doffo was saved by the Balzan custodian.
Yessous Camilleri missed a good opportunity on the 71st minute when Jamie Pace released him with a freekick but all alone in front of Patrick Jansen saw his attempt blocked by the Floriana goalkeeper.
The Youths were reduced to ten men on 72 minutes after captain Jonathan Francica picked a second yellow card for addressing remarks towards match officials.
Yessous Camilleri then headed the ball just wide off a Pedrinho corner from the right on 77 minutes.
Floriana took the lead on 79 minutes thanks to Onome Sodje who headed the ball home off a Pablo Doffo freekick.
Six minutes later, Balzan’s Nikola Tasic was also given marching orders by the referee after receiving two quick yellow cards.
Ryan Darmanin was unlucky to hit the crossbar after receiving a cross from the right by Sodje.
Three minutes in added time, Pablo Doffo scored with a long-distance freekick which gave Matthew Camilleri no chance.
A minute later, Floriana midfielder Christian Caruana was also sent off by referee Andre Arciola.
Pablo Doffo was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Patrick Jansen, Malcolm Licari (92’ Tyrone Farrugia), Eric Akoto, Thomas Paris, Manolito Micallef, Pablo Doffo, Joseph Borg (89’ Clyde Borg), Ivan Woods, Christian Caruana, Andre Grabowski (52’ Onome Sodje), Ryan Darmanin.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Francesco Guzman, Brooke Farrugia, Alandson Jansen da Silva.
Technical Director: Joe Brincat
BALZAN Matthew Camilleri, Roderick Farrugia, Rennie Forace, Jonathan Francica, Yessous Camilleri, Glenn Bonello (38’ Nikola Tasic), Jamie Pace, Michael Borg (41’ Bjorn Bondin), Martin Deyanov, Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Lydon Micallef (62’ Bledjon Guga).
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Silvan Ciscaldi, Jurgen Muscat, Donovan Micallef.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Chris Francalanza, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: L. Micallef, B. Bondin, J. Francica, M. Camilleri, I. Woods, N. Tasic
Red Cards: 72’ Jonathan Francica, 83’ Nikola Tasic; 90+4’ Christian Caruana
Scorers: 50′ Jamie Pace (B); 55′ own goal Roderick Farrugia (F); 79’ Onome Sodje (F); 90+3’ Pablo Doffo (F)