Substitute Alain Faccini was the hero for Sliema as he scored two late goals in a 3-1 win over Qormi which enabled the Blues to claim three precious points in the battle for a place in the Championship Pool.
Jesmond Zerafa’s side enjoyed a one-goal lead in half-time but the Wanderers managed to turn the score in their favour to move back in fourth place.
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Qormi lacked Roderick Sammut and Jonathan Bondin while Henry Bonello and John Mintoff were missing for Sliema.
The two teams shared the exchanges during the first half. Qormi had the first goal-scoring opportunity but Sebastian Aurelio Siritto hit wide from an ideal position on the 4th minute. On the other side of the pitch, Beppe Muscat had a shto from inside the area parried by the Qormi goalkeeper. Alex Muscat then headed high from close range when serve by Luigi Ruggiero off a cross by Ariel Laudisi on 36 minutes.
Qormi finally managed to take the lead two minutes in added time, before the end of the first half, when Luke Sciberras served Joseph Chetcuti inside the area and the latter managed to lob the ball over goalkeeper Glenn Zammit.
The Wanderers equalised on 69 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after Alessio Cassar handled the ball inside the penalty area following a header by Alex Muscat. From the penalty spot, Ivan Woods made no mistake to make it 1-1.
Ten minutes later, Sliema forged ahead when an Alex Muscat effort was partially saved by Farrugia and substitute Alain Faccini placed the ball at the back of the net off the rebound.
Glenn Zammit performed a good save with particular difficulty on Joseph Chetcuti on the 84th minute. Substitute Vincenzo Pisani beat three players on the run but his shot from the right hit the crossbar for Qormi.
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat, Luca Martinelli, Paltemio Barbetti, Mark Scerri, Luigi Ruggiero (67’ Omar El Ghaouti), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods (87’ Josef Mifsud), Ariel Laudisi (57’ Alain Faccini), Beppe Muscat, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Keane Cutajar, Andrew Decesare, Matias Muchardi, Miguel Ciantar.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: Jo Jo Bajada
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Kris Thackray, Joseph Chetcuti, Abubakar Bello-Osagie, Luke Sciberras, Matthew Gauci, Sebastiano Aurelio Siritto (85’ Vincenzo Pisani), Edison Bilbao Zarate, Alessio Cassar, Stephen Wellman, Leighton Grech (81’ Matthew Bartolo).
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Carmelo Farrugia, Roberto Sarcia, Gabriel Buttigieg, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Asst. Coach: Joe Brincat
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Chris Francalanza, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth Official: Esther Azzopardi (Fyodor Zammit)
Yellow Cards: Martinelli, Chetcuti, Scerri, B. Muscat, Bello-Osagie, M. Farrugia, Bianciardi
Scorers: 45+2’ Joseph Chetcuti (Q); 69’ Ivan Woods pen (S); 79’ Alain Faccini (S); 90+1’ Alain Faccini (S)
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Birkirkara dropped another two points as they were held in a 1-1 draw by Floriana. A third consecutive draw for Paul Zammit’s side which keeps them in second place together with Valletta, three points behind leaders Hibernians. The Citizens, however, have a game in hand.
Floriana have now extended their positive run to five matches, lying in seventh place, four points behind Tarxien Rainbows.
Birkirkara lacked Reuben Gauci, Ryan Camenzuli, Shola Shodiya Haruna and Joselito dos Reis while Ryan Darmanin was missing for Floriana.
The Stripes took the lead on 15 minutes when off a Jhonnattann corner from the right, Nikola Vukanac headed the ball home past goalkeeper Tony Warner.
Just before half-time, Warner came to the rescue turning a Jhonnattann effort into a corner after the Brazilian striker exchanged the ball with Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza outside the area.
Floriana equalised eighteen minutes in the second half when off an Igor Coronoado freekick, Aman Verma headed the ball home past Akpan.
Jhonnattann could have put Birkirkara ahead once again but his rising shot from outside the area hit the upright on 66 minutes. In stoppage time, the Brazilian striker had another fine shot tipped into a corner by the Floriana goalkeeper.
Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao was voted BOV Player of the Match.
B’KARA Ini Akpan, Edward Herrera (76’ Rowen Muscat), Nikola Vukanac, Zach Muscat, Joseph Zerafa, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Paul Fenech, Gareth Sciberras, Yosimar Hernandez (85’ Ryan Scicluna), Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao.
Subs not used: Jonathan Martinelli, Rodrigo Pereira, David Spiteri, Roderick Taliana, Brendon Attard.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
FLORIANA Tony Warner, Kane Farrugia, Trevor Cilia (38’ Thomas Paris), Aman Verma, Igor Coronado, Sunday Wasiu (61’ Valdo Alhinho), Mark Spiteri (69’ Owen Bugeja), Duncan Pisani, Tyrone Farrugia, Clyde Borg, Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Jonathan Debono, Henrique Celestino, Carl Tremarco, Joseph Borg.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Asst. Coach: Alan Keeling
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: C. Borg, Mendoza, Verma, Coronado, Z. Muscat, Warner
Scorers: 15’ Nikola Vukanac (B); 63’ Aman Verma (F)