Sliema Wanderers returned to winning ways as they defeated Rabat Ajax 4-1 at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
Although the Blues were the better side, the difference between the two teams was not that clear and it was only late in the game, after Rabat lost two players injured, that Sliema increased the lead further.
Rabat were a depleted side with the absence of Shaun Gauci, Clifford Gauci, Joseph Caruana, Adam Smeir and Ryan Micallef. The Wanderers, on the other hand, lacked Stanley Ohawuchi.
The Wanderers had a perfect start, taking the lead on the 8th minute when off a freekick by Paltemio Barbetti, Stefano Bianciardi rose high to anticipate Velimirovic, heading the ball home.
Twelve minutes in the second half, the Blues doubled the score when off a cross from the right by John Mintoff, Matias Muchardi placed the ball at the back of the net with a diving header.
Rabat reduced the gap on the 70th thanks to a fine header by Malcolm Licari off a Dani Pelaez freekick.
The Magpies then lost goalkeeper Pavle Velimirovic injured following a tackle by Pape Gueye.
Eight minutes from time, Sliema made it 3-1 when off a cross from the right by Matias Muchardi, Abubakar Bello-Osagie headed home from close-range.
In stoppage time, Sliema added another goal as a Andrea Navarra took a loose ball after a Dani Pelaez freekick hit the back of Dylan Falzon and beat substitute goalkeeper Jonathan Azzopardi with a low shot from inside the area.
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Alex Muscat, John Mintoff, Mark Scerri, Abubakar Bello-Osagie, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Trevor CIlia, Pape Gueye (78′ Andrea Navarra), Paltemio Barbetti, Matias Muchardi, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Jacob Borg, Axl Xuereb, Ivan Woods, Dylan Borg, Beppe Muscat.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
RABAT Pavle Velimirovic (81′ Jonathan Azzopardi), Zachary Tanti, David Azzopardi, Ivan Carapic, Dylan Falzon, Patrick Borg (74′ Chris Vella), Diego Carrillo Pendas, Daniel Pelaez Bellido, Moises Avila Perez, Malcolm Licari, Jonathan Bajada (35′ Aidan Azzopardi).
Subs not used: Josef Tonna, Etienne Scicluna, Kurt Muscat, Darren Borg.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Sammy Attard, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: Carrillo, Muscat, Pape, Pelaez, Falzon
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 582
Floriana climbed to the seventh place thanks to a 3-0 win over nine-man Qormi at the Centenary Stadium.
The Greens therefore join Vittoriosa on the nine-point mark, five behind Naxxar and one ahead of Qormi, Balzan and Tarxien.
Floriana lacked Gary Roberts and Joseph Borg while Jorge Pereira da Silva was missing for Qormi.
The Greens managed to take the lead on the 15th minute when Steve Pisani served Igor Coronado whose low shot beat goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia.
On the 70th minute, Qormi were reduced to ten men as former Floriana defender Owen Bugeja was sent off after receiveing a second yellow card for a foul on Sacha Borg.
The Greens were awarded a penaty on the 79th after goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia brought Luca Casha down inside the penalty area. Matthew Farrugia was sent off and from the penalty spot, Gary Muir beat substitute goalkeeper Steve Sultana to double the score.
Diogo Pinheiro de Sousa sealed the issue with a third goal six minutes from time following an assist by Christian Caruana.
FLORIANA Daniel Hanford, Andre Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Steve Pisani (64′ Luca Casha), Christian Caruana, Igor Coronado (85′ Glenn Tabone), Diogo Pinheiro de Sousa (85′ Giacomo Favero), Clyde Borg, Brooke Farrugia Gary Muir, Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Sunday Eboh, Jonathan Xerri, Isaac Galea.
Coach: Ian Dawes
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Alfred Effiong, Roderick Sammut, Leighton Grech, Roderick Bajada, Triston Caruana, Owen Bugeja, Jonathan Bondin (32′ Duncan Pisani), Riccardo Innocenti (80′ Steve Sultana), Marco Petrassi, Federico Santaguida (73′ Leonardo Gabrieli).
Subs not used: Gianluca Nucera, Dormond Micallef, Emerson Vella, Dylan Pirotta.
Coach: Tommaso Volpi
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Chris Francalanza, Thomas Debono
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards; Edet, Effiong, Scicluna, Farrugia, Bugeja
Red Cards: 71′ Owen Bugeja, 80′ Matthew Farrugia
Scorers: 15′ Igor Coronado, 80′ Gary Muir pen, 84′ Diogo Pinheiro de Sousa
BOV Player of the Match: Igor Coronado