Hibernians kept the pace with leaders Valletta as they defeated Sliema Wanderers 2-1 to stay three points behind the Citizens and move five ahead of third-placed Birkirkara and Balzan.
For the Wanderers, this was yet another disappointing result as they suffered the fourth consecutive defeat which leave them in joint-eighth place with Pembroke Athleta on 24 points.
Hibs lacked the injured Clayton Failla, Rui da Gracia Gomes and Jorge da Silva Pereira and the suspended Jonathan Pearson and Gilmar da Silva Ribeiro but welcomed back Diosdado Mbele, Andrei Agius and Marcelo Dias. Edison Luis dos Santos was named in the starting line-up.
Sliema, on the other hand, had new recruits Njongo Priso, Jean Paul Farrugia, Denni Rocha dos Santos and Haruna Shola Shodiya making their debut with the latter two being included as substitutes. Stefano Bianciardi was ruled out as he served a one-match ban while Saviour Fidelis was unavailable due to an injury.
The Paolites managed to take the lead three minutes from the end of the first half when off an Andrew Cohen freekick, Andrei Agius anticipated goalkeeper Timothy Aquilina with a back-header with the ball ending at the back of the net.
The Wanderers equalised on the 66th minute when off a cross from the right, Jean Paul Farrugia, who joined the club on loan from Hibs, slotted the ball past goalkeeper Jurgen Borg.
However Hibs regained the lead on 73 minutes when off a long-distance freekick, Bjorn Kristensen headed the ball home past the Sliema goalkeeper.
HIBS Jurgen Borg, Jackson Lima, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Andrew Cohen (70′ Jurgen Degabriele), Bjorn Kristensen, Diosdado Mbele Mangue Mba, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis Dos Santos, Joseph Essien Mbong, Jorge Santos Silva (84′ Zach Scerri).
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, David Xuereb, Dunstan Vella, Carlos Grech, Conner Zammit.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
SLIEMA Timothy Aquilina, Alex Muscat, Aidan Jake Friggieri (79′ Shola Haruna Shodiya), Mark Scerri, Njongo Lobe Priso Doding, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Marko Potezica, Johann Bezzina, Gary Muir, Jean Paul Farrugia, Luke Dimech (57′ Denni Rocha dos Santos).
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Benjamin Essel, Justin Vella, Sebastian Perdomo Esquivel, Peter Xuereb.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Martin Borg
Additional Assistant Referees: Malcolm Spiteri, Matthew De Gabriele
Fourth Official: Christopher Francalanza
Yellow Cards: Denni, Tarabai
Scorers: 42′ Andrei Agius, 66′ Jean Paul Farrugia, 73′ Bjorn Kristensen
BOV Player of the Match: Bjorn Kristensen
Renato Vella reporting from the National Stadium.