Birkirkara survived an early scare to turn defeat into victory, beating Naxxar Lions 3-1 at the Hibernians Stadium.
On the other hand, this was the first defeat for Naxxar after winning ten points from the last four matches, remaining fourth from bottom.
Jesmond Zerafa was unable to field his best formation due to the absence of the suspended Pablo Doffo and Victor Bellia. Paul Zammit, on the other hand, had the full squad at his disposal.
Naxxar had a good start going close after seven minutes thanks to Emenike Mbachu whose powerful shot was deflected by a defender and Terence Vella’s conclusion scraped past the post.
Three minutes later, Naxxar took the lead with a great long-distance shot which gave goalkeeper Justin Haber no chance.
Naxxar went close once again on 25 minutes with a Terence Vella header but Justin Haber turned punched the ball into safety.
Birkirkara equalised just before the end of teh first half when off a cross by Liliu, Ryan Scicluna hit the ball past goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi.
Three minutes in the second half, referee Alan Mario Sant ordered a penalty after Andrew Scicluna handled the ball inside the area following a cross by Camenzuli. From the penalty spot, Rafael Ledesma made no mistake.
The Stripes notched the winner on the hour thanks to Matheus Bissi da Silva who headed the ball home off a Rafael Ledesma freekick.
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Andrew Scicluna, Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Terrence Vella, Daren Falzon (64′ Mattia Del Negro), Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Angus Buhagiar, David Alejandro Reano (64′ Pape Gueye), Uchenna Eminike Mbachu, Christopher Uzeh Edafe.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Duane Bonnici, Jurgen Debono, John Debono, David Fenech.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
B’KARA Justin Haber, Matheus Bissi da Silva, Eliandro dos Santos Gonzaga (80′ Antoine Borg), Rafael Pompeo Rodriguez Ledesma (74′ Edmond Agius), Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Gareth Sciberras, Zach Muscat, Paul Fenech, Ryan Camenzuli, Ryan Scicluna, Ellinton Antonio Costa Morais (80′ Haruna Shola Shodiya).
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Leighton Grech, Edward Herrera, Kurt Zammit.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Edafe, Muscat, Bissi
BOV Player of the Match: Rafael Ledesma
Meanwhile Mosta were held in a 1-1 draw by Zebbug Rangers in a match at the Victor Tedesco Stadium.
Although they are still fourth, the Blues lose ground with the three top teams as they now lie seven points behind Birkirkara, eight behind Valletta and twenty behind leaders Hibernians.
Mosta lacked the injured Manolito Micallef and the suspended Kurt Magro and Dyson Falzon. Zebbug, on the other hand, had Mexican defender Luis Alfredo Pena Marquez making his debut.
Zebbug had the first attempt at goal on the 3rd minute with Mauricio Britto testing Omar Borg with a shot from inside the area but the Mosta custodian blocked his attempt. Mosta replied with a great freekick by Pedro Calcado which hit the crossbar.
Mosta managed to take the lead on 41 minutes when Mateus Ribeiro dos Santos took advantage of a short clearance by the goalkeeper and the Brazilian striker placed the ball at the back of the net following a slight deflection.
Substitute Miguel Ciantar was unlucky not to level matters on the 59th minute with a rising shot from the right which hit the crossbar. On the other side of the pitch, Bojan Kaljevic had a fine effort saved with particular difficulty by the goalkeeper.
Zebbug levelled matters on the 73rd minute when off a cross by Matthew Bartolo, Mauricio Britto headed home past goalkeeper Omar Borg.
On the 80th, Nemanja Milovanovic had a shot from the right blocked into a corner by the Zebbug goalkeeper. Three minutes later, Bojan Kaljevic hit the urpight with a shto from the edge of the area.
ZEBBUG Fabricio Rapchan dos Santos Morales, Thomas Paris, Matthew Bartolo, Matthew Gauci (46′ Miguel Ciantar), Yessous Camilleri, Carlo Gordon Monti, Jacob Borg, Mauricio Osmar Rodrigues Britto, Lee Galea, Mathias Muchardi, Luis Alfredo Pena Marquez (62′ Bojan Mamic).
Subs not used: Jeffrey Farrugia, Jonathan Xerri, Melvin Farrugia, Clifford Gauci, John Nwoba, Miguel Ciantar.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
MOSTA Omar Borg, Jonas Rodriguez Ekani, Tyrone Farrugia, Adrian Borg, Karl Pulo, Nemanja Milovanovic, Ryan Grech, Kurt Zammit, Daniel Mariano Bueno (43′ Bojan Kaljevic), Pedro dos Santos Calcado (62′ Kyle Frendo), Mateus Ribeiro dos Santos.
Subs not used: Kyle Gerada, Mark Brincat, Aaron Sammut, James Brincat.
Coach: Peter Smith
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Oficial: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Marquez, Monti, Galea, Pulo, Zammit, T. Farrugia, Kaljevic
BOV Player of the Match: Mateus Ribeiro dos Santos