Italian striker Matteo Piciollo scored twice as Floriana defeated Balzan 3-0 in a direct clash between the two teams who were sharing the fourth place. The Greens move to just one point behind Valletta, who however have a game in hand, and three points clear of Balzan.
For Giovanni Tedesco’s side, this was the third successive win. On the other hand, for Balzan, this was the second defeat in four matches.
Balzan coach Oliver Spiteri could not count on the injured Gianmarco Piccioni. On the other hand, Matteo Piciollo and Sacha Borg were back for Floriana after serving a one-match ban.
The Greens went close with a Steve Pisani freekick which was deflected into a corner by Steve Sultana. On the 20th, Matteo Piciollo, served by Samb, had a low shot parried by Sultana.
Floriana managed to take the lead on 42 minutes when off a cross by Vito Plut from the left, Matteo Piciollo headed home past goalkeeper Steve Sultana.
Seven minutes in the second half, the Greens doubled the score when off a Steve Pisani cross from the right, Matteo Piciollo’s first-time effort gave the Balzan goalkeeper no chance.
Floriana sealed the issue with a third goal on 76 minutes when off a Steve Pisani freekick, Conor Borg hit home from close range.
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli, Dylan Grima (69′ Terence Agius), Oscar Dario Guerrero Alvarado, Edison David Bilbao Zarate (57′ Ryan Darmanin), Steve Bezzina, Bojan Kaljevic, Osa Guobadia, Samir Arab, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (57′ Lydon Micallef), Elkin Orlando Serrano Valero.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Luke Sciberras, Godwin Mckay, Clive Brincat.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
FLORIANA Matthew Calleja Cremona, Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo, Marcelina Emerson, Steve Pisani, Vito Plut (90′ Sacha Borg), Matteo Piciollo, Conor Borg, Manuel Briffa, Amadou Samb (77′ Igor Coronado), Manolito Micallef, Steve Bonnici (73′ Clyde Borg).
Subs not used: Tyrone Gauci, Neil Spiteri, Giovanni Galea, Broke Farrugia.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
Referee: Esther Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Piciollo, Serrano, Sultana
Scorers: 42′ Matteo Piciollo, 52′ Matteo Piciollo, 76′ Conor Borg
BOV Player of the Match: Matteo Piciollo
Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Qormi scored two late goals to return to winning ways as they beat Mosta 3-1. A win which enables them to join Pietà and Zebbug on the 12-point mark, one ahead of Naxxar and Tarxien, and just two behind the same Mosta.
This was the third defeat in four matches for Mosta who have now gone six matches without a win.
Qormi had a perfect start taking the lead on the 2nd minute when off a through pass by Alfred Effiong, Alex Nilsson beat goalkeeper Omar Borg with a low diagonal shot.
Mosta equalised on the 66th minue when Gary Roberts, served by Ian Zammit, beat Matthew Farrugia with a powerful drive from outside the area.
Qormi regained the lead on the 90th when Alfred Effiong’s sent travelled along the goal line with Leighton Grech tapping the ball home from close range.
Deep into stoppage time, the victory for Hibernians was beyond doubt as Alfred Effiong lost the ball to an opponent but regained possession, crossed and Ousman Koli committed an own goal as he deflected the ball past the Mosta goalkeeper.
MOSTA Omar Borg, Tyrone Farrugia, Ryan Grech, Gary Roberts, Kurt Magro, Dyson Falzon, Yannick Ossok, Ousman Koli, Jonas Rodriguez Ekani (58’ Udo Fortune), Zak Brincat (56’ Ian Zammit), Mickael Nicoise Dawood (83’ Karl Pulo).
Subs not used: Kyle Gerada, Mark Brincat, James Brincat, Adrian Borg.
Coach: Peter Smith
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Marcelo Roberto Lima De Mattos, Alfred Effiong, Clifford Gauci, Emerson Vella (90+1’ Duncan Pisani), Zoran Levniac, Jonathan Bondin, Billy Berntsson, Gustavo Villalobos (90+5′ George Portelli), Leighton Grech, Alex Nilsson (72’ Christopher Edafe Uzeh)
Subs not used: Mario Muscat, Jurgen Cilia, Karl Sciortino.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Andre Arciola
Yellow cards: Ossok, Koli, Effiong, Vella, Falzon, Levnajic, Roberts, Gerada
Scorers: 2’ Alex Nilsson, 66’ Gary Roberts, 89’ Leighton Grech, 90+5′ own goal Ousman Koli
BOV Player of the Match: Leighton Grech
Renato Vella reporting from Victor Tedesco Stadium