Valletta moved second in the BOV Premier League as a stoppage-time goal by substitute Jean Pierre Mifsud enabled them to turn defeat into victory as they beat Hibernians 2-1.
The Paolites, who had enjoyed the top spot, since the start of this Premier League campaign therefore fall into third place, three points behind leaders Birkirkara and two behind Valletta. This was in fact the second defeat in three matches.
Hibernians were in full strength as they welcomed back Bjorn Kristensen after serving a one-match ban. Valletta, on the other hand, lacked Ian Azzopardi, Hamza Barry and new signing Lateef Elford-Alliyu.
The Paolites almost took the lead on 32 minutes following a misunderstanding between Oscar Reyes and goalkeeper Yenz Cini almost led to an own goal but the ball was cleared into safety.
Hibernians managed to take the lead one minute from the end of the first half when off a Clayton Failla freekick from the right, Edison Luis dos Santos slotted the ball past goalkeeper Yenz Cini.
Valletta restored equilibrium on the 69th minute when off a corner from the left, Roderick Briffa slotted the ball past Muscat.
Five minutes from time, Zoran Levnajic received a second yellow card for a foul in midfield and was therefore sent off by referee Adrian Azzopardi.
One minute in added time, Valletta notched the winner when off a cross by Ryan Fenech, substitute Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza headed the ball home past goalkeeper Mario Muscat.
VALLETTA Yenz Cini, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ryan Fenech, Edmond Agius (79′ Shaun Bajada), Roderick Briffa, Oscar Reyes Sanchez, Raimi Bakare (59′ Abdelkarim Nafti), Aziz Corr Nyang (75′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Denni Rocha dos Santos, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Ian Zammit, Dyson Falzon, Yessous Camilleri.
Coach: Mark Miller
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Marcelo Dias (57′ Matthew Bartolo), Andrew Cohen (79′ Jean Paul Farrugia), Bjorn Kristensen (90+3′ Obinna Obiefule), Clayton Failla, Zoran Levnajic, Edison Luis dos Santos.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Scott Chircop, Brandon Muscat, Jurgen Degabriele.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Roberto Vella
Additional Assistant Referees: Alan Mario Sant, Andre Arciola
Fourth Official: Duncan Sultana
Yellow Cards: Borg, Nyang, Levnajic, Denni, Agius, Mifsud Triganza, Failla, Jackson Lima
Red Cards: 85′ Zoran Levnajic
Scorers: 44′ Edison Luis dos Santos (H); 69′ Roderick Briffa (V); 90+1′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (V)
BOV Player of the Match: Roderick Briffa
Attendance at the National Stadium: 1,480
At the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Floriana defeated Tarxien Rainbows 3-1 to join Naxxar Lions in sixth place.
For the Greens, this was the third win in four matches while for Tarxien, this was the second consecutive defeat which leaves them third from bottom on twelve points.
The Rainbows could not count on the suspended Nicky Vella, Josef Mifsud and Miguel Ciantar but Luca Martinelli and Fernando Lopes Alcantara were back after serving a one-match ban. Floriana, on the other hand, lacked Sacha Borg.
The Greens had the first attempt at goal on the 3rd minute with a header by Brooke Farrugia blocked by Anthony Curmi. On the other side of the pitch, Daniel Hanford blocked a Ronaille Calheira effort after the latter advanced into the area from the left on the 9th minute. A rising shot by Everton Souza Santos ended just high three minutes later while on the 24th, Brooke Farrugia was unlucky to hit the upright for Floriana.
Tarxien took the lead on the 27th minute when off a corner from the right by Carlo Mamo, Steve Bonnici headed home past Daniel Hanford.
However four minutes later, Steve Bonnici was unlucky to commit an own goal when off his clearance, Tony Curmi tried to block the ball, the ball hit Bonnici once again, ending into the empty net.
To make the matters worse for the Rainbows, just before the end of the first half, referee Philip Farrugia ordered a penalty after Carlos Menendez Hevia was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area and from the penalty spot, Gary Muir shot on the right hand side, sending the goalkeeper the other way.
During the second half, the Greens were in control, going close to increasing the lead with an Igor Coronado freekick on 56 minutes.
Three minutes later, Floriana sealed the issue when a Luca Casha effort was partially saved by Curmi and off the rebound, Igor Coronado placed the ball at the back of the net.
TARXIEN Anthony Curmi, Carlo Mamo, Fernando Lopez Alcantara (60’ Jorge Santos Silva), Andrew Agius, Luca Martinelli, Marko Potezica, Ronaille Calheira Seara, Everton Souza Santos, Ryan Sammut, Carlos Menendez Hevia, Steven Bonnici.
Subs not used: Antonio Chetcuti, Steven Sadowski, Manuel Caruana, Karl Pulo, Matthew Cassar, Luke Zahra.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
FLORIANA Daniel Hanford, Andre Scicluna, Ibok Edet, Giacomo Favero (58’ Diogo Pinheiro De Sousa), Christian Caruana (80’ Steve Pisani), Igor Coronado, Darrell Baldacchino, Clyde Borg, Luca Casha, Brooke Farrugia (67’ Joseph Borg), Gary Muir.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Jonathan Xerri, Glen Tabone, Isaac Galea.
Coach: Ian Dawes
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Sammy Attard, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Alcantara, Martinelli, Farrugia, Caruana, Potezica
Scorers: 27’ Steven Bonnici (T), 31’ own goal Steven Bonnici (F), 45’ Gary Muir pen (F), 59’ Igor Coronado (F)
BOV Player of the Match: Brooke Farrugia