Floriana struggled much more than expected to overcome the challenge offered by Naxxar Lions but managed to turn a 0-1 deficit to a 2-1 win at the Hibernians Stadium to move alone in third place.
For Naxxar, this was the third consecutive defeat and they are now second from bottom, one point behind Qormi.
Greens coach Luis Oliveira could not count on a number of players ruled out due to injuries or suspensions, namely Jurgen Pisani, Manuel Briffa, Juninho Cabral and Conor Borg. Naxxar, on the other hand, lacked Blazo Rajovic but Andrew Scicluna was back after serving a suspension.
Naxxar had a perfect start taking the lead on the 9th minute when off a Daren Falzon corner from the left, Andrew Scicluna headed the ball home past goalkeeper Tyrone Gauci.
Nine minutes in the second half, the Greens were awarded a penalty after Mauricio Villa was brought down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Mario Fontanella converted to equalise.
Naxxar were reduced to ten men on 76 minutes after captain Angus Buhagiar received a second yellow card for a foul in midfield. Six minutes from time, Floriana notched the winner when off a corner by Chiesa from the left, the ball was deflected into the direction of Mauricio Villa who headed home from close range.
FLORIANA Tyrone Gauci, Antonio Monticelli, Enrico Pepe, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Mauricio Villa, Andrea Scozzese, Matteo Picciollo, Steve Bonnici (80′ Andre Scicluna), Nicolas Chiesa, Mario Fontanella.
Subs not used: Matthew Calleja Cremona, Luke Micallef, Neil Spiteri, Daniel Agius, Joseph Briffa, Firas Aboulezz.
Coach: Luis Oliveira
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi (68′ Luke Pecorella), Andrew Scicluna, Luca Lodetti, Richard Carlos Cardozo, Thomas Sarina, Demba Toure, Daren Falzon (74′ Duane Bonnici), Jose Angel Godar Peiera, Angus Buhagiar, Emiliano Lattes (58′ Jurgen Debono), Armando Tarlazis Vieira dos Santos.
Subs not used: Duane Bonnici, Isaac McCarthy, Mark Fenech, Ryan Mercieca, David Fenech.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Jurgen Spiteri
Fourth Official: Sandro Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Scicluna, Mandinho, Bonnici, Buhagiar, Falzon, Toure, Calleja Cremona, Sarina
Scorers: 9′ Andrew Scicluna, 55′ Mario Fontanella pen, 84′ Mauricio Villa
BOV Player of the Match: Nicolas Chiesa
Meanwhile at the Victor Tedesco Stadium, Qormi returned to winning ways thanks to a most comfortable 4-0 win over bottom-placed St. Andrews.
The Saints could have taken the lead on the 10th minute when Jacob Walker concluded a personal effort by dribbling two defenders and hitting low but the ball hit the foot of the post and ended into a goal kick.
Eight minutes later, Qormi took the lead when off a Clifford Gauci freekick from the left, Noah Olawole Ojuola’s header beat goalkeeper Kris Calleja.
On the half-hour, Johann Scicluna’s side doubled the score when off an Emerson Vella freekick, Djamel Leeflang headed the ball down for Alex Nilsson who anticipated the goalkeeper to place the ball at the back of the net.
Qormi increased the lead on the 62nd minute when Djamel Leeflang failed to connect off a cross by Alex Nilsson, Clifford Gauci’s effort was partially saved by Calleja and off the rebound, Leeflang hit the ball past the Saints’ custodian.
Ryan Micallef sealed the issue with a fourth goal on the 78th minute when off a cross by Emerson Vella, Ryan Micallef hit home from close range.
ST. ANDREWS Kris Calleja, Nick Ghio, Jordan Williams, Dale Camilleri (46’ Eloy Edu Nkene), Edafe Christopher Uzeh, Matthew Guillaumier, Matteo Desira Buttigieg (59’ Manuel Stefanoni), Michael Grima (46’ Kyrian Nwoko), Joseph Farrugia, Michael Johnson, Jacob Walker.
Subs not used: Dorian Buhagiar, Clyde Cumbo, Liam Grech, Josh Parry.
Coach: Jose Borg
QORMI Jean Matthias Vella, Alessio Cassar (13’ Tensior Gusman), Emerson Vella, Billy Velo Bertsson, Ousmane Sidibe, Clifford Gauci, Kurt Magro (72’ Pietro Viggiani), Yannick Yankam (77’ Ryan Micallef), Djamel Romano Leeflang Boerstra, Noah Olawale Ojuola, Georgios Alexander Nilsson Likourentzos.
Subs not used: Eric Grima, Joshua Barbara, Clint Barbara, Juan Carlos Veira Peixoto.
Coach: Johann Scicluna
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Christopher Francalanza, Martin Borg
Additional Assistant Referees: Philip Farrugia, Emanuel Grech
Fourth Official: Duncan Sultana
Yellow Cards: Gauci, Desira Buttigieg, Johnson
Scorers: 18’ Noah Olawale Ojuola, 30’ Georgios Alexander Nilsson Likourentzos, 62’ Djamel Romano Leeflang Boerstra, 78′ Ryan Micallef
BOV Man of the Match: Georgios Alexander Nilsson Likourentzos