Hibernians closed in on joint-leaders Valletta and Birkirkara as a goal by Clayton Failla handed them the three points in a narrow win over Mosta.
They move to just one point behind the leaders. Mosta, on the other hand, are still fifth on 19 points, one ahead of Tarxien Rainbows and Balzan. For them this was the second consecutive defeat after losing to Birkirkara last week.
Hibernians lacked Jackson Lima and John Nwoba with new Brazilian striker Allan Kardeck dos Santos starting the game on the bench. Mosta coach Steve D’Amato could not count on the injured Jonathan Bajada but welcomed back Bryan Agius. Daniel Bogdanovic was named among the substitutes.
Mosta held the initiative in the opening minutes and on the 10th minute, Firas Aboulezz released Ousseni Zongo on the left with an intelligent pass by the latter failed to control the ball. Two minutes later, Aboulezz served Obinna Obiefule whose fine effort was turned into a corner by Mario Muscat.
However Hibernians managed to take the lead on 13 minutes when Marcelo Dias served Clayton Failla who controlled the ball before hitting hard past goalkeeper Justin Haber.
The Paolites appealed for a penalty on the 36th minute when Luke Dimech appeared to foul Marcelo Dias inside the area. However referee Clayton Pisani cautioned the Hibs striker for simulation.
Rodolfo Soares then hit the woodwork with a header off across by Clayton Failla two minutes from half-time.
Hibernians held the lion’s share of ball possession after the break but it was only in the final ten minutes that they threatened to increase the lead, first with an Andrew Cohen powerful drive on 82 minutes ending just over the bar and a minute later with Allan Kardeck dos Santos effort from the right which was neutralised by Haber.
A few seconds earlier, the Paolites were reduced to ten men after Adrian Pulis picked a second yellow card.
Hibernians could have sealed the issue with a second goal in added time when in a swift counter-attack, with Justin Haber caught in midfield following an attempt to help the Blues to equalise, Andrew Cohen served Allan Kardeck dos Santos whose long-distance shot just missed the target. Andrew Cohen then missed an incredible opportunity hitting high from in front of goal when served by Johann Bezzina.
Clayton Failla was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MOSTA Justin Haber, Mano Micallef, Bryan Agius (46’ Ferdinando Apap), Luke Dimech, Steve Bezzina, Carlos Campagnoli, Ryan Grech, Ousseni Zongo, Danail Mitev (78’ David Maia dos Santos), Firas Aboulezz (80’ Kurt Zammit), Obinna Obiefule.
Subs not used: Noel Attard, David Maia dos Santos, Alex Cini, Daniel Bogdanovic, Steve Onyii Chiemeka.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Adrian Pulis, Rodolfo Soares, Zoran Levnajic, Bjorn Kristensen, Andrew Cohen, Udo Nwoko, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (78’ Johann Bezzina), Clayton Failla, Marcelo Dias (63’ Allan Kardeck dos Santos).
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Ayrton Azzopardi, Brandon Muscat, Jonathan Pearson, Jean Paul Farrugia.
Asst. Coach: Darren Abdilla
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Mario Apap
Yellow Cards: R. Grech, B. Kristensen, O. Zongo, A. Pulis, M. Dias, B. Agius, R. Camilleri, L. Dimech, A. Cohen, M. Muscat
Red Card: 83’ Adrian Pulis
Scorers: 13’ Clayton Failla
Floriana returned to winning ways as they defeated a Sliema Wanderers side reduced to nine men 2-0. A win which puts the Greens back on track in their bid to climb out of the danger zone as they join Hamrun Spartans on thirteen points.
For the Wanderers, it was a highly disappointing performance after collecting seven points from the previous three matches.
Floriana coach Stephen Azzopardi made a number of changes in the line-up including new signing Haygnner Henrique Celestino. Akanni-Sunday Wasiu was back in squad after settling differences with the club while Owen Bugeja, Trevor Cilia and Carl Tremarco were all ruled out injured. Duncan Pisani was missing as he was serving a one-match ban. Sliema, on the other hand, lacked Luca Martinelli, Ivan Woods and Ariel Laudisi.
The Greens had the first attempt at goal on 14 minutes when off a cross by Mark Spiteri, Ryan Darmanin’s header was neutralised by Henry Bonello.
Floriana took the lead on 22 minutes when off a corner from the left, Aman Verma headed the ball home past goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
To make matters worse for Sliema, Henry Bonello was sent off three minutes later when he tripped Brooke Farrugia just outside the area when the latter received a through pass by Mark Spiteri.
However Alex Muscat was unlucky to hit the upright for Sliema on 32 minutes with a shot from inside the area.
The two teams continued to share the exchanges with the two goalkeepers hardly being tested.
On the 73rd minute, Mark Scerri received a second yellow card for a foul on Brooke Farrugia, therefore leaving the Wanderers in nine men for the final seventeen minutes.
Floriana took full advantage and doubled the score on 79 minutes when substitute Valdo Alhinho served Ryan Darmanin who rounded a defender before hitting low past Glenn Zammit.
In stoppage time, the Greens could have added another goal but Sacha Borg was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a shot from outside the area.
Aman Verma was voted BOV Player of the Match.
FLORIANA Tony Warner, Thomas Paris, Tyrone Farrugia, Kane Farrugia, Sacha Borg, Haygnner Henrique Celestino, Aman Verma, Brooke Farrugia (75’ Joseph Borg), Mark Spiteri (63’ Clyde Borg), Igor Coronado (58’ Valdo Alhinho), Ryan Darmanin.
Subs not used: Jonathan Debono, Mario Eriksson, Francesco Guzman, Akanni-Sunday Wasiu.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Asst. Coach: Alan Keeling
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, Paltemio Barbetti, John Mintoff (26’ Glenn Zammit gk), Mark Scerri, Luigi Ruggiero, Andrew Decesare, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Matias Muchardi (66’ Omar El Ghaouti), Miguel Ciantar (66’ Beppe Muscat), Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Branislav Timotic, Alain Faccini, Marlon Briffa, Josef Mifsud.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: Jo Jo Bajada
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: M. Scerri, T. Farrugia, A. Decesare
Red Card: 25’ Henry Bonello, 73’ Mark Scerri
Scorers: 22’ Aman Verma, 79’ Ryan Darmanin