Birkirkara returned to winning ways but struggled more than expected to beat Pietà Hotspurs 2-1.
The Hotspurs managed to react well after going one goal down, notching the equaliser but the Stripes were quick to regain the lead and take home the three points.
Birkirkara held the initiative during the first half, going close with a Paul Fenech effort on the 14th minute which was blocked by Montfort.
Five minutes in the second half, Luke Micallef advanced on the right and rather than serving the unmarked Jurgen Pisani, he tried his luck but his conclusion ended high. A Nassir Maachi close-range effort was blocked into a corner by a defender a minute later.
The Stripes managed to break the deadlock on 66 minutes when following a corner from the right, the ball reached Zach Muscat whose shot from outside the area ended in the bottom right corner behind Montfort.
However five minutes from time, Pietà equalised when following a good run on the left flank, Jurgen Pisani served Leonardo Fortunato dos Santos who headed the ball home from close range.
Birkirkara could have regained the lead two minutes later with a Nikola Vukanac header but Miguel Montfort was prominent with a great save into a corner. However from the resulting corner, the first attempt at goal was blocked by a defender and off the rebound, Mauricio Mazzetti placed the ball at the back of the net.
B’KARA Justin Haber, Joseph Zerafa, Nikola Vukanac, Shola Haruna Shodiya, Nassir Ahmed Maachi (77′ Edmond Agius), Paul Fenech, Zach Muscat, Rowen Muscat (46′ Kurt Zammit), Ryan Camenzuli (69′ Edward Herrera), Ryan Scicluna, Mauricio Mattias Mazzetti Latini.
Subs not used: Mirza Hamzabegovic, Mattheus Bissi da Silva, Antoine Borg, Gareth Sciberras.
Coach: Paul Zammit
PIETÀ Miguel Montfort, Karl Micallef, Christian Grech, Leonardo Fortunato dos Santos, Jurgen Pisani, Rafael Rodrigues da Silva, Cain Attard (67′ Dylan Agius), Luke Micallef, Charles Nnaekeka Newuche (54′ Joao Gabriel da Silva), Ricardo Costa (77′ Kyle Cesare), Claudio Frances.
Subs not used: Dylan Galea, Orosco Anonam, Ayrton Mizzi, Neil Pace Cocks.
Assistant Coach: Orosco Anonam
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Peter Abela
Fourth Official: Sandro Spiteri
Yellow Cards: none
Scorers: 66′ Zach Muscat, 85′ Leonardo Fortunato, 88′ Mauricio Mazzetti
BOV Player of the Match: Paul Fenech
Meanwhile at the Hibernians Stadium, Floriana dropped two important points in the battle for fourth place as they were held in a goalless draw by Qormi.
This was the second consecutive draw for the Greens who now lie two points ahead of Balzan. Qormi, on the other hand, move fourth from bottom – two points ahead of Pietà and Zebbug and three ahead of Tarxien.
Both sides had their fair share of goal scoring opportunities. Floriana went close on the 15th with a header by Amadou Samb, off a Steve Pisani cross, which just missed the post. Nine minues later, a header by Matteo Piciollo was blocked by the goalkeeper before being cleared into safety. On the other side of the pitch, Calleja Cremona stopped Gustavo Villalobos from putting Qormi ahead on the 36th.
Eaight minutes in the second half, Villalobos, served by Marcelinho, had a good attempt neutralised by the goalkeeper. On the 79th, a through pass by Effiong for Villalobos saw the latter’s attempt saved at point blank by the Floriana goalkeeper. Matthew Farrugia then peformed a good save on a Vito Plut header and finally the Qormi goalkeeper turned into a corner an Igor Coronado corner.
FLORIANA Matthew Calleja Cremona, Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo (57’ Igor Coronado), Emerson Marcelina, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Vito Plut, Matteo Piciollo, Emanuel Briffa, Amadou Samb, Manolito Micallef, Sacha Borg.
Subs not used: Tyrone Gauci, Luke Micallef, Neil Spiteri, Giovanni Galea, Brooke Farrugia, Daniel Agius.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Marcelo Roberto Lima de Mattos (78’ Billy Berntsson), Alfred Effiong, Clifford Gauci, Emerson Vella, Zoran Levniac, Duncan Pisani, Gustavo Villalobos, Leighton Grech (84’ Bjorn Bondin), Alex Nilsson (70’ Ryan Micallef).
Subs not used: Mario Muscat, Jurgen Cilia, George Portelli, Karl Sciortino.
Coach: Mark Miller
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Levnajic, Piciollo, S. Borg, C. Borg, Gauci, Micallef, B. Bondin
BOV Player of the Match: Emerson Vella