A brace by Onome Sodje put Floriana back in third place as the Greens defeated Birkirkara 2-1 despite having to play for the final fifteen minutes in ten men.
Floriana stay eight points behind second-placed Hibernians and one ahead of the Stripes. For Birkirkara, this was the first defeat after five wins and two draws from the last seven matches.
Birkirkara lacked Paul Fenech while Joseph Borg and Christian Caruana were missing for Floriana.
After a quiet start for the two teams, the Greens managed to break the deadlock on 33 minutes thanks to Onome Sodje who pounced on a cross by Woods and advanced upfield before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Reuben Gauci.
Birkirkara replied with a shot by Shola Shodiya, served by Ryan Scicluna, from the edge of the area, ending just wide a minute later.
Floriana doubled the score on 36 minutes when Andre Grabowski served Onome Sodje on the left and the latter beat the Birkirkara custodian with a fine curved shot.
Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
Two minutes in the second half, Sodje served Grabowski on the right and the latter’s low shot almost surprised Gauci.
Substitute Moises Avila Perez pulled one back for Birkirkara on the 48th when a long-distance cross was not held by Manuel Bartolo and off the rebound, the Spanish striker placed the ball at the back of the net.
Another substitute – Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza – could have equalised on the 54th but his first attempt was blocked by Bartolo and off the rebound, Owen Bugeja cleared the ball into safety.
A freekick by Pablo Doffo almost surprised Gauci with the ball ending into a corner on 62 minutes. On the 69th, Sodje released Grabowski who rounded the goalkeeper but his conclusion ended wide.
The Greens were reduced to ten men on the 76th minute as Clyde Borg picked a second yellow card and was therefore sent off by referee Trustin Farrugia Cann.
Onome Sodje was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Manuel Bartolo, Duncan Pisani, Manolito Micallef, Eric Akoto, Owen Bugeja, Pablo Doffo, Ivan Woods, Thomas Paris (58’ Tyrone Farrugia), Andre Grabowski (81’ Brooke Farrugia), Clyde Borg, Onome Sodje (92’ Alandson da Silva).
Subs not used: Patrick Jansen, Malcolm Licari, John Mintoff, Ryan Darmanin.
Technical Director: Joe Brincat
Team Manager: Adrian Mifsud
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Nikola Vukanac, Rodrigo Pereira (46’ Moises Avila Perez), Joseph Zerafa, Shaun Bajada (46’ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Gareth Sciberras, Angus Buhagiar, Rowen Muscat, Ryan Scicluna, Jorge Santos Silva (68’ Alan Tabone), Harun Shola Shodiya.
Subs not used: Karl Magri, Ryan Camenzuli, Ian Schembri, Michael Camilleri.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Mariano Debono
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Woods, Shodiya, C. Borg
Red Cards: 75′ Clyde Borg
Scorers: 33’ Onome Sodje (F); 36’ Onome Sodje (F); 48’ Moises Avila Perez (B)
Photos: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
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Hibernians came back from one goal down to beat Sliema Wanderers 3-1 and move back six points behind leaders Valletta, keeping third-placed Floriana at a distance.
The Wanderers have now gone six games without a win
Sliema lacked Josef Mifsud, Cleavon Frendo, Andrew Decesare and Jeremiah Ani. Hibernians, on the other hand, welcomed back Jackson Lima who missed the last game against Valletta.
The Wanderers managed to take the lead on the 2nd minute when off an Emiliano Lattes corner from the left, Steve Bezzina beat Mario Muscat with a powerful first-time effort.
Ryan Camilleri was unlucky to hit the upright with a powerful drive for Hibernians on 26 minutes. A powerful shot by Jonathan pearson was turned into a corner by Henry Bonello just before half-time.
Hibernians equalised two minutes in the second half when off a Clayton Failla freekick, there was a header by Andrew Cohen which was not held by Henry Bonello and Jason Vandelannoite hit home from close range.
The Sliema goalkeeper neutralised a Clayton Failla freekick on 53 minutes.
However five minutes later, the Paolites doubled the score when off a cross by Clayton Failla, Edison Luis dos Santos headed home.
Twelve minutes from time, Edward Herrera, served by Tarabai, scored the third goal thanks to a powerful shot from the left which gave Henry Bonello no chance.
A freekick by Ryan Fenech was parried by Mario Muscat on the 84th minute.
Clayton Failla was voted BOV Player of the Match.
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, Ryan Fenech, Nikola Bogdanovic, Ryan Fenech, Nikola Bogdanovic, Ryan Grech, Mark Scerri (61’ Trevor Cilia), Eyenga Anicet, Danial Mitev, Steve Bezzina, Emiliano Lattes (61’ Rumen Galabov)(64’ Clifford Gatt Baldacchino), Beppe Muscat.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Keane Cutajar, Glenn Chircop, Andrew Caligari.
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Asst. Coach: Saviour Debono Grech
HIBS Mario Muscat, Jonathan Pearson, Jason Vandelannoite, Rodolfo Soares, Ryan Camilleri, Bjorn Kristensen, Andrew Cohen, Edward Herrera (86′ Steve Pisani), Clayton Failla, Jackson Di Lima Sequeira, Edison Luis dos Santos (79’ Marcelo Dias).
Subs not used: Nicholas Grima, Aaron Xuereb, Ayrton Azzopardi, Johann Bezzina, Peter Anizoba
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Richard Mercieca
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: Failla, Scerri, A. Muscat, Grech, Mitev
Scorers: 2’ Steve Bezzina (S); 47’ Jason Vandelannoite (H); 58’ Edison Luis dos Santos (H); 78′ Edward Herrera (H)