Leaders Hibernians moved seven points clear in the BOV Premier League table as they returned to winning ways, beating Birkirkara 1-0 in a top-of-the-table clash.
The Paolites therefore extended their unbeaten run to nine matches after being held in a draw by Tarxien last week. For the Stripes, this was the third defeat in nine matches.
Hibernians had two changes from the team which was held by Tarxien as Timothy Tabone Desira and Jackson Lima replaced the injured Johann Bezzina and the suspended Marcelo Dias. On the other hand, with Gareth Sciberras still ruled out injured, Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit made no changes to the team which defeated Valletta.
The Paolites made their intentions clear right from the start, going close on the 6th minute when a cross-shot by Clayton Failla from the left hit the upright before the ball was cleared into safety. Two minutes later, a Matheus Bissi freekick missed the target by a whisker.
Hibernians managed to take the lead on the 10th minute when off a perfect assist by Jorginho, Tarabai beat Justin Haber with a shot from the right.
Birkirkara had a good opportunity to equalise on the 17th when off a good move by Edward Herrera on the right, he served Ryan Scicluna whose shot from inside the area ended over the bar. Then just before half-time, a cross by Failla was not held by Haber but a defender cleared the ball into safety.
The Paolites went close with a fine scissors-kick by Tarabai on 58 minutes. On the 84th, Justin Haber was prominent with a good save of Jorginho and deep in added time, substitute Jurgen Degabriele advanced all alone into the area but his conclusion was weak and Haber saved without any difficulty.
HIBS Henry Bonello, Timothy Tabone Desira, Rui Gomes da Gracia, Jackson da Lima Siquiera, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen (86’ Jonathan Pearson), Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis Dos Santos, Jorge Da Silva Periera (90+2 Jurgen Degabriele).
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Keith Tanti, Dunstan Vella, Zach Scerri, Isaac Briffa.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
B’KARA Justin Haber, Matheus Bissi da Silva (30’ Shola Haruna Shodiya), Nikola Vukanac, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Rafael Pompeo Rodriguez Ledesema, Paul Fenech, Zach Muscat, Ryan Scicluna (84’ Leighton Grech), Edward Herrera, Ryan Camenzuli (73’ Edmond Agius), Ellinton Antonio Costa Morais.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Antoine Borg, Andrea Curmi, Kurt Zammit.
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official Referees: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Failla, Z. Muscat
BOV Player of the Match: Edison Luis dos Santos
Scorers: 10’ Edison Luis dos Santos
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 1720
Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, a brace by Vito Plut and a goal by Brooke Farrugia enabled Floriana to make a great comeback from two goals down to beat Mosta 3-2.
The Greens therefore returned to winning ways after going four matches without a win while for Mosta, this was the fourth consecutive defeat.
Floriana had four changes from the team which lost to Qormi as Rodrigo Aguiar, Conor Borg, Neil Spiteri and Amadou Samb replaced Steve Bonnici, Giovanni Galea, Gary Muir and Matteo Piciollo. Mosta, on the other hand, had five changes as goalkeeper Omar Borg replaced Mexican goalie Marcus Bernal while Jonas Ekani Rodriguez, Sasa Jovanovic, Adrian Borg and Kyle Frendo replaced Ishamel Grech, Mark Brincat, Ryan Grech and Daniel Mariano Bueno.
The Blues took the lead on the 21st minute when off a Pedro Calcado freekick, Adrian Borg headed the ball home past goalkeeper Valerio Senatore.
Mosta doubled the score on 33 minutes thanks to Manolito Micallef who beat Senatore from close range following a good move by Ekani.
Two minutes in the second half, Floriana pulled one back when off a cross by Matteo Piciollo, Vito Plut headed the ball home past Omar Borg.
Five minutes later, the Greens equalised thanks to Vito Plut who concluded a fine solo effort by rounding the goalkeeper and placing the ball at the back of the net.
Substitute Daniel Mariano Bueno was unlucky to hit the upright for Mosta on 69 minutes. Three minutes later, another substitute Ryan Grech, was sent off for a late tackle on Conor Borg.
Floriana forged ahead on 74 minutes when a freekick by Steve Pisani was not held by Omar Borg and off the rebound, the ball reached Brooke Farrugia who slammed the ball home.
In the final stages, Mosta pushed for the equaliser but Senatore managed to block attempts by Daniel Mariano Bueno and Pedro Calcado.
FLORIANA Valerio Senatore, Andre Scicluna, Rodrigo Felix Aguiar (36′ Matteo Piciollo), Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Vito Plut, Conor Borg, Neil Spiteri, Amadou Samb, Brooke Farrugia.
Subs not used: Andrew Zammit, Luke Micallef, Darrell Baldacchino, Giovanni Galea, Isaac Galea, Steve Bonnici.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
MOSTA Omar Borg, Tyrone Farrugia, Manolito Micallef, Kurt Magro (59′ Ryan Grech), Jonas Rodriguez Ekani, Adrian Borg, Kyle Frendo (82′ Kurt Zammit), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Bojan Kaljevic, Nemanja Milovanovic, Sasa Jovanovic (62′ Daniel Mariano Bueno).
Subs not used: Kyle Gerada, Mark Brincat, Ishmael Grech, James Brincat.
Coach: Enrico Piccioni
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Aguiar, Magro, Calcado, Samb, Frendo, O. Borg, Piciollo
Red Cards: 72′ Ryan Grech
BOV Player of the Match: Vito Plut
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 644
Renato Vella reporting from Hibernians Stadium