Floriana scored two second-half penalties to move a step closer to securing the runner-up position and hence a place in the UEFA Europa League as they beat Hamrun Spartans 2-0.
The Greens were the better side right from the start but a string of fine saves by Hamrun goalkeeper Omar Borg stopped them from taking the lead during the first half.
Both coaches were unable to field their best formation. In fact, Floriana lacked the suspended Pablo Doffo and Thomas Paris while Dene Shields and Dragan Milovic were missing for Hamrun.
The Spartans could have taken the lead on the 8th minute when a freekick from the left by Rupert Mangion beat Saidi but Manolito Micallef cleared the ball off the goal line. A powerful drive by Ivan Woods was deflected into a corner by Omar Borg four minutes later. On 15 minutes, the Hamrun custodian managed to block a close-range effort by Daniel Nwoke from the left.
Omar Borg was prominent once again with a good save on a Dragomir Draganov effort from close on 21 minutes. On the other side of the pitch, Gaetan Spiteri missed a good opportunity on 37 minutes when he rounded a defender but wasted too much time in trying to conclude and his shot was cleared by a defender. Then just before the end of the first half, a diagonal shot from the left by Dyson Falzon ended just wide.
Floriana managed to break the deadlock three minutes in the second half when they were awarded a penalty after Jovan Vukanic handled the ball inside the area following a cross by Christian Caruana. From the penalty spot, Ivan Woods converted.
On 56 minutes, Draganov concluded a good run on the right with a powerful shot which was turned into a corner by the Hamrun goalkeeper. A minute later, Daniel Nwoke hit high from a good position inside the area.
The Greens doubled the score on 65 minutes when they were awarded another penalty after Nikolai Chipev handled the ball following a cross by Ivan Woods. Woods made no mistake from the penalty spot after referee Marco Borg gave marching orders to the Bulgarian midfielder.
After performing another good save on Daniel Nwoke, goalkeeper Omar Borg was beaten by a long-distance shot by Joseph Borg on 79 minutes but the Floriana substitute’s effort hit the crossbar. A minute later, Nwoke concluded a solo effort with a shot from the edge of the area ending just wide.
Ivan Woods was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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HAMRUN Omar Borg, Massimo Grima (76’ Daniel Zerafa), Rupert Mangion, Roderick Fenech, Marcelo Pereira (68’ Dylan Kokavessis), Dyson Falzon, Gaetan Spiteri, Jovan Vukanic (78’ Karl Magro), Nikolai Chipev, David Camilleri, Steve Bonnici.
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Craig Debattista, Lee James Agius, Peter Anizoba.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
FLORIANA Lotfi Saidi, Duncan Pisani, Tyrone Farrugia, Manolito Micallef, Christian Cassar, Clyde Borg, Dragomir Draganov (89’ Mark Gauci), Christian Caruana (77’ Joseph Borg), Ivan Woods, Daniel Nwoke (84’ Mohammed El Yamani), Owen Bugeja.
Subs not used: Matthew Towns, Sacha Borg, Brian Said, Mauro Di Lello.
Coach: Michael Woods
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Joe Camilleri
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Nwoke, Falzon, Caruana, Chipev
Red Cards: 63’ Nikolai Chipev
Scorers: 48’ Ivan Woods (pen), 65’ Ivan Woods (pen)
In the second match, Tarxien Rainbows returned to winning ways as they defeated Marsaxlokk 4-2.
Tarxien were in excellent form in the first half, scoring four goals without reply. After the break, Marsaxlokk controlled their opponents better and reduced the gap with two goals by the returning Julio Alcorse but this was not enough to earn anything from the game.
The Southseasiders therefore threw away their chances of finishing second as they lie seven points behind Floriana.
Marsaxlokk lacked captain Carlo Mamo while Steve Sadowski and Justin Grioli were missing for Tarxien.
The Rainbows were awarded a penalty on the 10th after Malcolm Licari handled the ball following a cross by Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira. The same Brazilian striker made no mistake from the penalty spot to put Tarxien ahead.
Tarxien doubled the score on the 20th when off a cross by Julian Vella, Daniel Mariano Bueno flicked the ball past goalkeeper Reuben Gauci.
Two minutes later, Gauci performed a great save on an equally great header by Sergio Pacheco into a corner, following a cross from the left by Bueno.
Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira increased the lead on 28 minutes when he exchanged the ball with Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues and beat Gauci with a low shot from the edge of the area.
In a swift counter-attack for Tarxien on 37 minutes, Bueno exchanged the ball with Cristiano but the former’s acrobatic shot ended high.
But three minutes later, Bueno sent Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues through and the latter pulled to the right before beating Gauci with a perfect lob to make it 4-0.
Martin Deanov tested Tarxien goalkeeper David Cassar with a direct freekick on 68 minutes.
Julio Alcorse pulled one back for Marsaxokk ten minutes from time after receiving a through pass, rounding a defender and hitting low past David Cassar.
One minute later, Alcorse was on target once again with a rising shot from inside the area.
Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira was voted BOV Player of the Match.
M’XLOKK Reuben Gauci, Malcolm Licari, Clive Brincat, Emil Yanchev, Andrew Spiteri, Florent Raimy, Gareth Sciberras, Rumen Galabov (73’ Ryan Darmanin), Peter Pullicino (46’ Trevor Templeman), Martin Deanov, Alfred Effiong (73’ Julio Alcorse).
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Sunday Eboh, Kevin Polidano.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
Asst. Coach: Louis Cutajar
TARXIEN David Cassar, Manuel Caruana (62’ Sergio Hili), Everton Antonio Pereira, Gianluca Calabretta, Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues (91’ Andre Farrugia), Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira, Daniel Mariano Bueno, Luke Vella Critien, Julian Vella, Orosco Anonam, Ryan Mintoff.
Subs not used: Anthony Curmi, Ricardo Costa, Warren Zerafa, Lee Galea.
Coach: Noel Coleiro
Asst. Coach: Michael Church
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Templeman, Cristiano
Scorers: 11’ Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira (pen) (T); 20’ Daniel Mariano Bueno (T); 28’ Sergio Pacheco De Oliveira (T); 40’ Cristiano Dos Santos Rodrigues (T); 80’ Julio Alcorse (M); 81’ Julio Alcorse (M)