Floriana maintain the challenge for fourth place as they returned to winning ways, beating Zebbug Rangers 2-0. This win extends the Greens’ unbeaten run to nine matches as they move two points ahead of Balzan and five behind Valletta but the latter two have a game in hand.
For Zebbug, this was the fifth consecutive defeat, leaving them joint-second from bottom, one point ahead of Tarxien.
Floriana coach Giovanni Tedesco could not count on Conor Borg apart from Steve Bonnici and Andre Scicluna. Zebbug, on the other hand, lacked the suspended Yessous Camilleri, Thomas Paris and Matthias Muchardi.
The Greens managed to take the lead on the 28th minute when off an assist by Manuel Briffa from the right, Vito Plut slotted the ball past goalkeeper Jeffrey Farrugia.
Three minutes later, Floriana doubled the score when they were awarded a penalty after Paltemio Barbetti handled the ball inside the area and from the penalty spot, Matteo Piciollo’s effort was partially saved with the same player placing the ball at the back of the net off the rebound.
The Rangers’ reaction consisted of a Miguel Ciantar effort which was turned into a corner by Calleja Cremona two minutes from the end of the first half.
Four minutes in the second half, Zebbug pulled one back when off a cross by Miguel Ciantar, Mauricio Britto served Rashid Yussuff who hit home past the Floriana goalkeeper.
Five minutes from time, Carlo Monti had a fine freekick from the right turned into a corner by Calleja Cremona. From the resulting corner, Matthew Bartolo’s effort was blocked by a defender with the Zebbug players appealing for a penalty as they argued that the defender had handled the ball inside the area. From the clearance, the ball reached Manuel Briffa who advanced all alone from midfield up to the Zebbug penalty area, rounded the goalkeeper and slammed the ball home to seal the issue for Floriana with a third goal.
ZEBBUG Jeffrey Farrugia, Jacob Borg, Paltemio Barbetti, Matthew Bartolo, David Alejandro Reano, Rashid Yussuff, Carlo Gordon Monti, Luke Montebello (65′ Matthew Gauci), Miguel Ciantar (74′ Shaun Borg), Lee Galea (6′ Kurt Zammit), Mauricio Osmar Rodrigues Britto.
Subs not used: Manuel Bartolo, Kurt Tanti, Luke Gatt, Redeemer Attard.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
FLORIANA Matthew Calleja Cremona, Douglas Felipe Moreira Cobo, Emerson Marcelina, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg (18′ Brooke Farrugia), Vito Plut, Matteo Piciollo, Luke Micallef (64′ Giovanni Galea) Manuel Briffa, Amadou Samb (60′ Gary Muir), Manolito Micallef.
Subs not used: Tyrone Gauci, Neil Spiteri, Glen Tabone, Daniel Agius.
Coach: Giovanni Tedesco
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Sandro Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Zammit, Cobo
Scorers: 28′ Vito Plut, 31′ Matteo Piciollo, 49′ Rashid Yussuff, 86′ Manuel Briffa
BOV Player of the Match: Matteo Piciollo
At the Hibernians Stadium, Birkirkara scored twice during the first half to beat Tarxien Rainbows 2-0 and stay clear of third-placed Valletta.
This was the seventh successive defeat for bottom-placed Tarxien.
Birkirkara managed to take the lead on 26 minutes when off a cross by Ryan Scicluna, Nikola Vukanac headed the ball home past goalkeeper Sean Mintoff.
The Stripes doubled the score six minutes from the end of the first half when off a cross by Zach Muscat, Haruna Shola Shodiya’ header beat the Tarxien custodian.
TARXIEN Sean Mintoff, Kane Paul Farrugia, Manuel Caruana, Jorge Yepes Roda, Triston Caruana, Firas Aboulezz (69’ Luke Zahra), Eduardo Vallecillo Casado, Jose Angel Godar Pereira, Alexander Cini, Matthew Tabone, Obinna Darlington Ajoku (82’ Nigel Vella).
Subs not used: Antonio Chetcuti, Steven Sadowski, Nigel Vella, Ishmael Grech, Manuel Xerri.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
B’KARA Justin Haber, Joseph Zerafa, Nikola Vukanac (70’ Nassir Ahmed Maachi) Mauricio Matias Latini Mazzetti, Shola Haruna Shodiya (78’ Rafael Pompeo Rodrigues Ledesma), Edward Herrera, Paul Fenech, Zach Muscat, Ryan Camenzuli (74’ Matthew Bissi da Silva), Ryan Scicluna, Rowen Muscat.
Subs not used: Ini Etim Akpan, Antoine Borg, Edmond Agius, Kurt Zammit.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow cards: Vallecillo, Yepes
Scorers: 26′ Nikola Vukanac, 39′ Shola Haruana Shodija
BOV Player of the Match: Paul Fenech