Naxxar Lions maintained a three-point lead over Vittoriosa Stars in the battle against relegation as the two teams shared the spoils in an entertaining 3-3 draw.
The Lions therefore join Qormi in third place in the Relegation Pool on 17 points, three ahead of Vittoriosa.
The two coaches had to make several changes due to the absence of Angus Buhagiar, Thiago Lopes de Souza and Andrew Decesare for Naxxar, Federico Santaguida, Ousmane Sidibe and Jose Filipe Aguiar for Vittoriosa all ruled out through suspension.
Naxxar managed to take the lead thanks to a great goal by Andre Rocha da Silva whose overhead kick gave goalkeeper Mario Muscat no chance after just nine minutes.
Vittoriosa levelled matters on the 35th when off a freekick by Oscar Guerrero, Clive Brincat headed the ball home.
Five minutes in the second half, the Stars forged ahead thanks to a goal by Oscar Guerrero who placed the ball at the back of the net off an assist by Gilbert Martin.
Vittoriosa made it 3-1 on 74 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after Marcelo Pereira was brought down inside the area. Oscar Guerrero converted from the penalty spot.
The Stars seemed heading for victory but Naxxar had other thoughts. Six mintues from time, Mario Muscat floored Vignjevic inside the area. Referee Clayton Pisani ordered a penalty and Victor Bellia made no mistake.
But it was not over yet as three minutes later, Naxxar were awarded another penalty after a defender handled the ball inside the area. This time, David Alejandro Reano converted from the penalty spot to rescue a point for the Lions.
NAXXAR Julian Azzoaprdi, Raimi Bakare, Victor Bellia, Ryan Gilmour Cassar (80′ Jurgen Debono), Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, John Debono (80′ Terence Scerri), Kurt Drago, Daren Falzon, David Alejandro Reano, Andre Rocha da Silva, Filip Stojanovic (63′ Milan Vignjevic).
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Ryan Mercieca, Yaron Sammut, Joel Ellul.
Coach: Winston Muscat
VITTORIOSA Mario Muscat, Luke Vella Critien, Leonardo Torri, Carl Sammut (76′ Seydou Bamba), Samir Arab, Gilbert Martin (68′ Siraj Arab), Oscar Guerrero, Clive Spiteri, Marcelo Pereira (90′ Sheldon Grech), Clive Brincat, Francisco Arriagada Mella.
Subs not used: Sean Cini, Ryan Mifsud, Mark Barbara, Malcolm Buttigieg.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Sandro Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Reano, Gilmar Vella Critien, Guerrero, Torri, Muscat, Brincat, Siraj Arab, Drago
BOV Player of the Match: Oscar Guerrero
Attendance at the Victor tedesco Stadium: 572
Photo: Copyright © Paul Zammit Cutajar
In a game from the Championship Pool, Hibernians moved six points clear of Sliema Wanderers and Mosta after defeating the Wanderers 3-1.
Both sides were unable to field their best formation due to the absence of Bjorn Kristensen for Hibernians and Alex Muscat and Admir Vladavic for Sliema.
Hibernians took the lead on the 9th minute when off a cross from the right, Jean Paul Farrugia headed the ball home over goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
On the half-hour, Obinna Obiefule doubled the score with a good attempt from inside the area.
The Paolites continued to hold the upper hand, creating the better chances but eight minutes from time, Sliema went close to reducing the gap with a shot from outside the area by Stanley Ohawuchi hitting the crossbar.
However one minute from time, Hibs scored the third goal when a shot by substitute Andrew Cohen hit the foot of the upright and Edison Luis dos Santos hit home off the rebound.
Two minutes in added time, Sliema scored a consolation goal thanks to Stanely Ohawuchi who converted a penalty after Ryan Camilleri handled the ball inside the area.
HIBS Daniel Balzan, Timothy Tabone Desira, Scott Chircop (3′ Zoran Levnajic), Igor Radusinovic, Ryan Camilleri, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Clayton Failla, Obinna Obiefule, Edison Luis dos Santos (90′ Jurgen Degabriele), Jean Paul Farrugia (68′ Andrew Cohen).
Subs not used: Rudi Briffa, Brandon Muscat, Johann Bezzina, Dunstan Vella.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
SLIEMA Henry Bonello, Jacob Borg, Kane Farrugia (60′ Axl Xuereb), John Mintoff, Mark Scerri (46′ Beppe Muscat), Stanley Ohawuchi, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods, Paltemio Barbetti, Matias Muchardi, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Alex Podda, Trevor Cilia, Carl Cassar, Gabriel Aquilina.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referee: Sammy Attard, Roberto Vella
Additional Assistant Referees: Alan Mario Sant, Chris Lautier
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: Mintoff, Ohawuchi, Radusinovic, Camilleri
BOV Player of the Match: Obinna Obiefule
Attendance at the Hibernians Stadium: 626