A penalty by Jhonnattann enabled Birkirkara to move just two points behind leaders Valletta as they beat Mosta 1-0.
They now lie on the 23-point mark, one ahead of Hibernians, three ahead of Sliema and four ahead of Mosta who are now fifth.
Birkirkara lacked Edward Herrera, Gareth Sciberras, Shola Shodiya and Joselito dos Reis. Bryan Agius was on the other hand, missing for Mosta.
The Stripes had the first attempt at goal with Ryan Camenzuli’s effort turned into a corner by Justin Haber on the 2nd minute.
Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao managed to put Birkirkara ahead on 52 minutes as he converted a penalty after Steve Chiemeka brought Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza down inside the area.
Mosta missed a good opportunity on 69 minutes when Obinna Obiefule entered the penalty area and tried to serve Ousseni Zongo but there was no one to connect.
The Stripes went close once again on 78 minutes when a clearance by Haber bounced on Jhonnattann but the ball ended just wide. Three minutes later, a diagonal shot by Jhonnattann was saved partially by Justin Haber and off the rebound, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza’s effort was neutralised by the Mosta goalkeeper.
Three minutes in added time, Zach Muscat came to the rescue for Birkirkara clearing off the goal-line a Steve Chiemeka effort.
Justin Haber was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MOSTA Justin Haber, Manolito Micallef, Alex Cini (22’ Ryan Grech), Luke Dimech, Steve Bezzina, Steve Onyii Chiemeka (46’ Danail Mitev), Carlos Campagnoli, Firas Aboulezz, Daniel Bogdanovic, Ousseni Zongo, Obinna Obiefule.
Subs not used: Noel Attard, Jonathan Bajada, Kurt Zammit, David Maia dos Santos, Ferdinando Apap.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
B’KARA Reuben Gauci, Ryan Scicluna (84’ David Spiteri), Nikola Vukanac, Joseph Zerafa, Ryan Camenzuli, Rowen Muscat, Paul Fenech, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Aljeandro Mendoza Corujo, Zach Muscat, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (92′ Antoine Borg).
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Godwin McKay, McAllister Clinch, Bernard Borg, Brendon Attard.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Mariano Debono, Mitchell Scerri
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Dimech, Chiemeka, Scicluna, Mitev, Aboulezz, Jhonnattann
Scorers: 52’ Jhonnattann pen
Qormi returned to winning ways as goals by Sebastian Siritto and Vincenzo Pisani gave them a 2-1 win over Tarxien Rainbows to end their winless streak which lasted six matches. They now move ninth on eleven points, one ahead of Floriana.
The Rainbows were a disappointing lot after collecting ten points from the previous four matches and stay sixth on seventeen points.
Jesmond Zerafa – the Qormi coach – could not count on the suspended Joseph Chetcuti. Tarxien, on the other hand, were in full strength as they welcomed back Evaldo Silva dos Santos. However they lost Carlo Mamo injured after just five minutes.
Qormi had the first attempt at goal on 12 minutes when Bello-Osagie served Sebastian Aurelio Siritto but the latter’s close-range shot was neutralised by Nicky Vella. Two minutes later, Orosco Anonam risked committing an own goal as he headed the ball off a throw-in by Matthew Bartolo but the ball ended into a corner.
On the other side of the pitch, Danilo Meira Santos concluded a good solo effort with a rising shot from the edge of the area but the ball scraped past the post on 21 minutes
Leighton Grech released Bello-Osagie on the right on 34 minutes and the latter rounded the goalkeeper but his pass was blocked by Ryan Sammut who cleared into a corner. Five minutes later, Roderick Bajada served Daniel Mariano Bueno whose low shot ended wide. A freekick by Evaldo three minutes from half-time ended high.
Qormi managed to break the deadlock four minutes in the second half when Sebastian Aurelio Siritto exchanged the ball with Edison Bilbao Zarate before hitting low past goalkeeper Nicky Vella.
Substitute Karl Pulo missed an incredible chance to equalise but after advancing all alone he hit wide from in front of the goalkeeper on 65 minutes.
Qormi sealed the issue three minutes from time when Leighton Grech entered the penalty area and passed the ball back to Vincenzo Pisani who slotted the ball past goalkeeper Nicky Vella.
The Rainbows scored a consolation goal on the 90th when off an Andrezinho freekick, Daniel Mariano Bueno headed the ball home past goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia.
Edison Bilboa Zarate was voted BOV Player of the Match.
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Kris Thackray, Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo (56′ Gabriel Buttigieg), Sebastian Aurelio Siritto (69’ Vincenzo Pisani), Abubakar Bello-Osagie, Luke Sciberras, Matthew Gauci, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Jonathan Bondin, Leighton Grech.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Carmelo Farrugia, Jeremy Farrugia, Alessio Cassar, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Asst. Coach: Joe Brincat
TARXIEN Nicky Vella, Carlo Mamo (6’ Steve Sadowski), Manuel Caruana, Evaldo Silva dos Santos (77’ Luiz Romulo de Castro), Roderick Bajada, Danilo Meira Santos, Andre Reinaldo de Souza Esposito, Ryan Sammut, Daniel Mariano Bueno, David Fenech (46’ Karl Pulo), Orosco Anonam.
Subs not used: David Cassar, Justin Grioli, Mark Tanti, Steve Bonnici.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Asst. Coach: Steve Vella
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Eman Grech
Fourth Official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Gauci, Evaldo, Andrezinho, Bello-Osagie, Danilo
Scorers: 49’ Sebastian Aurelio Siritto, 87’ Vincenzo Pisani; 90’ Daniel Mariano Bueno