Floriana returned to winning ways as they came back from one goal down to beat Old Firm rivals Sliema Wanderers 2-1 to move back in joint-third place with Birkirkara who however have a game in hand.
For the Wanderers, this was the first defeat after a good run of four positive results which therefore leaves them in the eighth place, one point behind Mosta and six behind Balzan.
With Matthew Calleja Cremona ruled out through suspension, Floriana coach Luis Oliveira handed young goalkeeper Matthew Grech his debut.
The Wanderers took the lead on the 24th minute when Gary Muir served Alex Muscat and off the latter’s cross from the right, Mark Scerri, marked by Emanuel Briffa, headed home from close range.
The Greens equalised eight minutes from the end of the first half when off a cross by Nicolas Chiesa from the right, Mauricio Villa managed to lob the ball over goalkeeper Timothy Aquilina.
Four minutes in the second half, Floriana were awarded a penalty as Nicolas Chiesa entered the penalty area only to end on the ground when approached by the goalkeeper for what seemed a rather harsh decision by the referee Malcolm Spiteri who sent goalkeeper Timothy Aquilina off. From the penalty spot, Mario Fontanella’s effort was partially saved by substitute goalkeeper Glenn Zammit but off the rebound, Mauricio Villa placed the ball at the back of the net.
One minute from time, substitute Matteo Picciollo almost increased the lead but his conclusion following a good run on the right hit the upright.
SLIEMA Timothy Aquilina, Alex Muscat (62′ Marko Potezica), Mark Scerri, Michael Mifsud, Rafael Ledesma (51′ Glenn Zammit), Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Aidan Jake Friggieri, Johann Bezzina (87′ Kyle Hendry), Gary Muir, Stefano Bianciardi, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Entonjo Elezaj, Benjamin Essel, Justin Vella, John Mintoff.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
FLORIANA Matthew Grech, Andre Scicluna, Antonio Monticelli, Enrico Pepe, Steve Pisani, Clyde Borg, Mauricio Villa, Andrea Scozzese (82′ Firas Aboulezz), Emanuel Briffa, Nicolas Chiesa, Mario Fontanella (70′ Matteo Picciollo).
Subs not used: Tyrone Gauci, Luke Micallef, Neil Spiteri, Daniel Agius, Joseph Briffa.
Coach: Luis Oliveira
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Peter Abela
Additional Assistant Referees: Fyodor Zammit, Trustin Farrugia Cann
Fourth Official: William Debattista
Yellow Cards: Dimech, Friggieri, Scerri, Bezzina, Villa, Monticelli, Borg
Scorers: 24′ Mark Scerri, 37′ Mauricio Villa, 52′ Mauricio Villa
BOV Player of the Match: Mauricio Villa