Vittoriosa Stars defeated Tarxien Rainbows 3-0 to join Qormi in the ninth place, leaving Clive Mizzi’s side second from bottom.
For Oliver Spiteri’s side, this was the second win in three matches while for the Rainbows, this was the fifth defeat in six matches.
William Barbosa was making his debut for the Rainbows who welcomed back Steve Bonnici and Ronaille Calheira Seara after serving a one-match ban. On the other hand, Filipe Aguiar returned for Vittoriosa after missing the previous game.
The Rainbows held the lion’s share of ball possession during the first half, going close on the 14th as Jorge Santos Silva galloped on the right flank but his cross to the centre was headed into safety by Ousmane Sidibe before any Tarxien strikers could do any damage.
Vittoriosa forged their way on the 18th minute when Marcelo Pereira dribbled past a defender on the left flank, his cross to the centre found Gilbert Martin alone with the latter’s strike ending at the back of the net.
Tarxien replied with a cross from the left by Karl Pulo on the 35th but Ronaille’s header ended over the bar. The Stars went close to scoring the second goal on the 37th minute as Oscar Guerrero created havoc on the left flank, his cross to the centre was well connected by Marcelo Pereira but the ball was cleared off the goal line by Steve Bonnici.
The second half was more of the same with Tarxien gearing to notch the equaliser but the Stars were the most disciplined and organised team, guarding their goalpost well and relying on swift counter attacks.
A freekick by William Barbosa was parried by Sean Cini on 54 minutes. Three minutes later, David Mitogo Garcia’s central shot from close range was blocked by Nicholas Vella.
On the 72nd, referee Alan Mario Sant ordered a penalty following a late tackle by Sadowski on Marcelo Pereira. Oscar Guerrero converted from the eleven metres.
Vittoriosa secured the three points on the 77th minute when Gilbert Martin released Marcelo Pereira inside the area and the latter’s low shot beat Nicky Vella.
Tarxien could have scored a consolation goal four minutes from time but Jorge Santos Silva’s fierce shot from inside the penalty area was parried by Sean Cini.
TARXIEN Nicholas George Vella, Steven Sadowski, Carlo Mamo, Marko Potezica (63’ Miguel Ciantar), Ronaille Calheira Seara, William Barbosa, Carlos Menendez Hevia, Karl Pulo, Josef Mifsud, Steven Bonnici (63’ Luca Martinelli), Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Antonio Chetcuti, Manuel Caruana, Fernando Lopez Alcantara, Andrew Agius, Ryan Sammut.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
VITTORIOSA Sean Cini, Sidibe Ousimane, Filipe Aguilar (79’ Siraj Arab), Gibert Martin (82’ Ryan Mifsud), Samir Arab, Oscar Guerrero, David Mitogo Garcia (74’ Francisco Arriagada Mella), Luke Vella Critien, Marcelo Pereira, Adam Spiteri, Michael Camilleri.
Subs not used: Lawrence Cauchi, Clive Brincat, Justin Camilleri, Clive Spiteri.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: S. Bonnici, M. Potezica, F. Aguiar, S. Arab, J. Santos Silva.
Scorers: 18’ Gilbert Martin, 73’ Oscar Guerrero, 77’ Marcelo Pereira
BOV Player of the Match: Marcelo Pereira
At the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Balzan kept their hopes of securing a top-six finish alive with a 2-1 win over Floriana.
Balzan are still eighth but move to just two points behind Floriana. For the Greens, this was the second consecutive defeat after winning the previous three matches.
Floriana welcomed back Emmanuel Ibok Edet but lacked Christian Caruana and Clyde Borg. New signing Rodrigo Felix Aguiar started the game on the bench. Balzan, on the other hand, had Manuel Bartolo and Pedro dos Santos Calcado making their debut – the latter after re-joining the club a couple of weeks ago.
Balzan had the first attempt at goal with a Fabio Vignaroli effort which was parried by Hanford and then the Welsh goalkeeper performed a good save in two attempts on Jose Luis Armario Negrin.
They managed to take the lead on 26 minutes when off a Pedro Calcado corner, Steve Bezzina’s header was cleared beyond the goal line by Joseph Borg with Ramon dos Santos making sure with another header off the rebound ending at the back of the net. The goal was awarded to Bezzina as the ball had crossed the goal line.
On the 34th, Balzan could have increased the lead when a low shot by Edison Bilbao Zarate was partially saved by the Floriana goalkeeper but off the rebound, Negrin and Grima collided with the ball being cleared into safety.
However Jose Luis Armario doubled the score on 39 minutes, hitting home from close range when served by Bezzina.
Floriana pulled one back on 58 minutes through Emmanuel Ibok Edet who headed home off a corner by Gary Muir from the right.
The Greens now gained confidence and went close with an angled shot by Gary Muir which was deflected into a corner by Manuel Bartolo.
FLORIANA Daniel Hanford, Andre Scicluna, Sunday Eboh (61′ Isaac Galea), Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Steve Pisani, Igor Coronado, Diogo Pinheiro de Sousa (46′ Rodrigo Felix Aguiar), Joseph Borg, Luca Casha (24′ Brooke Farrugia), Gary Muir, Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Sean MIntoff, Darrell Baldacchino, Jonathan Xerri, Glen Tabone.
Coach: Ian Dawes
BALZAN Manuel Bartolo, Andrew Scicluna, Steve Bezzina, Justin Grioli, Ramon dos Santos, Fabio Vignaroli, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Dylan Grima (45′ Kurt Magro), Lydon Micallef (94′ Luke Sciberras), Pedro dos Santos Calcado, Jose Luis Armario Negrin (87′ Ryan Darmanin).
Subs not used: Michael Falzon, Godwin Mckay, Firas Aboulezz, Mark Spiteri.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Paul Caruana
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Sandro Spiteri
Yellow Cards: J. Borg, Andre Scicluna, Andrew Scicluna, S. Borg, J. Grioli, F. Vignaroli
Scorers: 26′ Steve Bezzina, 39′ Jose Luis Armario Negrin, 58′ Emmanuel Ibok Edet
BOV Player of the Match: Steve Bezzina