Tarxien Rainbows moved back in second place as they defeated Floriana in a direct clash at the Hibernians Stadium.
With Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues and Daniel Mariano Bueno in excellent form and goalkeeper David Cassar playing a great game, the Rainbows fully deserved to take the three points which put them twelve points behind leaders Valletta and one ahead of the Greens.
Floriana lacked Daniel Nwoke, Pablo Doffo and Christian Cassar. Tarxien, on the other hand, were in full strength.
After having a ball cleared off the goal line following a header from close range, Floriana went close once again on 16 minutes with a diagonal shot by Dragomir Draganov which was not held by David Cassar. Six minutes later following a Marcal Guerreiro Fernandes freekick from the right, Christian Caruana controlled the ball before hitting just wide from outside the area. Another Draganov effort from the left was parried by Cassar on 34 minutes.
Tarxien managed to take the lead on 36 minutes when off a cross by substitute Daniel Mariano Bueno from the right, Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues headed the ball home past goalkeeper Lotfi Saidi.
In added time, Tyrone Farrugia came to the rescue for Floriana as he cleared the ball into a corner before Daniel Mariano Bueno could hit home from close range off a cross by Sergio Pacheco from the right.
Three minutes in the second half, Floriana went close with a cross shot by Clyde Borg but the Tarxien goalkeeper blocked. Off the rebound, the same Floriana midfielder tried his luck with a dipper but Cassar neutralised
On 51 minutes, Tarxien doubled the score when off a Justin Grioli cross from the right, Daniel Mariano Bueno placed the ball at the back of the net with a beautiful diving header.
Seven minutes later, Bueno entered the penalty area from the left, serving Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues who slammed the ball home.
Floriana could have reduced the gap on 69 minutes when Marcal Guerreiro Fernandes, served by Woods, had a powerful shot from the edge of the area parried by the Tarxien custodian.
Two minutes later, off a Kiril Dzhorov corner from the left, Dragomir Draganov headed the ball home from close range.
The Greens were reduced to ten men on 72 minutes when Tyrone Farrugia received a second yellow card following a foul outside the area.
On 76 minutes, Lotfi Saidi performed a good save on Daniel Mariano Bueno following a good move between Mark Tanti, Orosco Anonam and the Brazilian striker. On the other side of the pitch, on 88 minutes, an acrobatic effort by Ivan Woods, served by Micallef, was turned into a corner by Cassar.
Finally three minutes in added time, Draganov hit the crossbar with a good header off a cross by Woods from the right with the Bulgarian striker claiming the ball bounced beyond the goal line.
Daniel Mariano Bueno was voted BOV Player of the Match.
Photos: Copyright © www.stephengatt.com
TARXIEN David Cassar, Steve Sadowski, Manuel Caruana (85’ Ryan Mintoff), Everton Antonio Pereira, Gianluca Calabretta (56’ Mark Tanti), Ricardo Costa (33’ Daniel Mariano Bueno), Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues, Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira, Orosco Anonam, Lee Galea, Justin Grioli.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Sergio Hili, Luke Vella Critien, Julian Vella.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Assistant Coach: Michael Church
FLORIANA Lotfi Saidi, Brian Said, Thomas Paris, Ivan Woods, Christian Caruana (70’ Owen Bugeja), Clyde Borg, Duncan Pisani (54’ Kiril Dzhorov), Manolito Micallef, Marcal Guerreiro Fernandes (70’ Sacha Borg), Dragomir Draganov, Tyrone Farrugia.
Subs not used: John Agius, Alan Abela, Carl Cutajar.
Coach: Michael Woods
Assistant Coach: Todor Raykov
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Konrad Borg, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: T. Farrugia, L. Galea, G. Calabretta, J. Grioli, M. Micallef
Red Cards: 72’ Tyrone Farrugia
Scorers: 36′ Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues, 51′ Daniel Mariano Bueno, 58′ Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues (T); 71’ Dragomir Draganov (F)
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A goal by Andrei Agius proved to be enough for Birkirkara to beat Vittoriosa Stars and move to just one point behind Floriana and two behind Tarxien.
The Malta international defender was making his debut for the Stripes together with Brazilian/Lithuanian striker Rodolfo Kumbrevicius. Simon Zahra and Trevor Cilia were ruled out injured. Carlos Campagnoli and Kevin Mifsud were missing for Vittoriosa.
Birkirkara had the first attempt at goal with Emiliano Lattes testing Simon Agius with a direct freekick on 16 minutes. Two minutes later, Shaun Bajada concluded a good move with a shot from outside the area ending just wide and on 21 minutes, off a cross by Lattes from the right, Terence Vella’s fine effort hit the crossbar.
The Stripes managed to take the lead on 38 minutes when off a cross from the right, Andrei Agius controlled the ball beating Simon Agius with a fine volley.
After the break, shots at goal were rare until Paul Fenech tried his luck with a powerful shot from the left which was turned into a corner by Simon Agius. In added time, Clayton Micallef went close to equalising but goalkeeper Michael Fraser managed to turn the ball into a corner.
Emiliano Lattes was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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VITTORIOSA Simon Agius, Carl Sammut, Clayton Micallef, Steve Wellman, Jeffrey Chetcuti, Murilo Maccari, Ryan Grech, Edison Luis Dos Santos, Jorge Santos Silva, Anthony Ewurum, Alan Tabone (71’ Leighton Grech).
Subs not used: Jean Matthias Vella, Justin Camilleri, Pierre Aquilina, Jonathan Xerri, Dino Cachia, Larry Lagana.
Coach: Winston Muscat
Assistant Coach: Darren Abdilla
B’KARA Michael Fraser, Terence Vella (91′ Ryan Camenzuli), Joseph Zerafa, Nikola Vukanac, Shaun Bajada (83’ Ryan Scicluna), Andrei Agius, Rodolfo Kumbrevicius (73’ Karl Pulo), Rowen Muscat, Paul Fenech, Emiliano Lattes, Angus Buhagiar.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Patrick Borg, Andrew Decesare, Michael Galea.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Assistant Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Malcolm Mercieca
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: R. Kumbrevicius, P. Fenech, R. Grech, A. Buhagiar, J. Santos Silva, J. Chetcuti
Scorers: 38’ Andrei Agius