Champions Valletta registered a third win in the last four matches as they beat Qormi 4-0 to keep the pace with the top teams.
For Qormi, this was yet another disappointing result as this was the fourth defeat in the last five matches.
With Steve Borg, Jonathan Caruana, Abdelkarim Nafti and Ian Zammit all ruled out injured, Valletta coach Gilbert Agius opted to name the same line-up after the emphatic win over Sliema last week. Qormi, on the other hand, had two changes as Jonathan Bondin and Alfred Effiong replaced Bjorn Bondin and Pietro Viggiani.
Valletta took the lead on 31 minutes when Roderick Briffa had a shot from the edge of the area hitting the crossbar and off the rebound, Adrian Zahra served Lateef Elford Alliyu who slammed the ball home from close range.
The Citizens doubled the score on 63 minutes when off a counter-attack, Ryan Fenech served Lateef Elford-Alliyu who released Alex Terra Barboza on the right and the Brazilian striker hit hard past Matthew Farrugia.
Four minutes from time, Valletta sealed the issue with a third goal as Ian Azzopardi headed the ball home from close range off an inviting cross by Alex Terra from the right.
But it was not over yet as on the 90th, substitute Luke Montebello added a fourth goal with a great volley from the right when served by Ryan Fenech.
VALLETTA Nicky Vella, Ian Azzopardi, Ryan Camilleri, Ryan Fenech, Hugo Faria, Roderick Briffa, Lateef Elford-Alliyu, Llywelyn Cremona (69′ Hamza Barry), Adrian Zahra (73′ Shaun Bajada), Alex Barboza Terra (87′ Luke Montebello), Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Hamid Ismael Alkamali, Ian Montanaro, Daniel Camilleri.
Coach: Gilbert Agius
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Jonathan Bondin, Anderson Michele Quatrochi Santos, Steve Agius, Duncan Pisani, Roderick Sammut (58′ Bjorn Bondin), Joseph Chetcuti, Zoran Levnaic, Albert Bruce (63′ Pietro Viggiani), Alfred Effiong, Frank Temile (87′ Gilmore Azzopardi).
Subs not used: Jurgen Cilia, Karl Sciortino, Alessio Cassar, Ryan Micallef.
Coach: Josef Mansueto
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant Referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: Dimech
Scorers: 31′ Lateef Elford-Alliyu, 63′ Alex Terra, 86′ Ian Azzopardi, 90′ Luke Montebello
BOV Player of the Match: Lateef Elford Alliyu
Attendance at National Stadium: 936
At the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Naxxar Lions held Floriana in a 1-1 draw despite having a player sent off.
For Naxxar, this was the third draw in six matches as they continue to chase their first win while for Floriana, this was a second consecutive draw after being held in a 3-3 draw by Zebbug last week.
Naxxar had one change as Pablo Doffo replaced Uchenna Emenike Mbachu while for Floriana, Emerson Marcelina, Gary Muir and the suspended Steve Bonnici made way for Douglas Cobo, Steve Pisani and Amadou Samb.
Naxxar had the first attempt at goal on the 11th minute with a Gilmar effort ending just over the bar on the 11th minute.
Floriana, however, took the lead on the 18th minute when Amadou Samb served Vito Plut with a perfect through pass and the Slovenian striker hit the ball past goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi.
Naxxar were awarded a penalty on the 34th minute after Amadou Samb handled the ball inside the area following a Gilmar freekick. However the Brazilian striker’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by the Floriana goalkeeper.
Five minutes in the second half, Naxxar went close to equalising with an Angus Buhagiar header which ended just over the bar off a corner by Gilmar.
However on the 59th minute, Naxxar were awarded another penalty after Briffa floored Terence Vella inside the area. This time, Pape Gueye made no mistake to restore equilibrium.
Floriana almost restored teh lead but a Vito Plut effort from outside the area hit the upright with Julian Azzopardi beaten on 65 minutes.
Four minutes later, Naxxar had Angus Buhagiar sent off for violent conduct after hitting an opponent in the face. However the Lions controlled their opponents well in the remaining minutes to take home the positive result.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Andrew Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Terence Vella (90+1′ Ryan Gilmour Cassar), Mattia Del Negro, Pape Gueye, Daren Falzon (70’ Uchenna Emenike Mbachu), Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Pablo Doffo (71’ Victor Bellia), Angus Buhagiar, David Alejandro Reano.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Jurgen Debono, Ryan Mercieca, Yaron Sammut.
Coach: Winston Muscat
FLORIANA Valerio Senatore, Andre Scicluna, Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Vito Plut (89’ Giovanni Galea), Matteo Piciollo, Emanuel Briffa, Amadou Samb (54′ Emerson Marcellina), Brooke Farrugia, Sasha Borg (29’ Neil Spiteri)
Subs not used: Andrew Zammit, Luke Micallef, Joseph Borg, Isaac Galea.
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Chris Francalanza
Additional Assistant Referees: Clayton Pisani, Adrian Azzopardi
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Andrew Scicluna, Samb, Andre Scicluna, Buhagiar, Del Negro, Briffa, Piciollo
Red Card: 69’ Angus Buhagiar
Scorers: 18’ Vito Plut (F), 60’ Papa Gueye (N)
BOV Player of the Match: Vito Plut
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 852