After eleven wins and seven draws, leaders Hibernians suffered their first defeat as they lost to Birkirkara by the odd goal in five at the National Stadium on Saturday.
The Paolites lie four points ahead of Floriana, who however have a game in hand and six ahead of the Stripes.
Birkirkara took the lead on the 24th minute when off a cross by Cain Attard from the right, Luke Montebello beat Calleja Cremona with an angled first-time effort.
Two minutes from the end of the first half, Birkirkara doubled the score thanks to a shit from outside the area by Cain Attard which ended in the bottom left corner.
Three minutes in the second half, Hibernians reduced the gap when off a Jurgen Degabriele freekick from the right, Ferdinando Apap rose high to head home from close range.
The Paolites levelled matters on 79 minutes when off a cross by Gabriel Izquier from the left and Ferdinando Apap headed the ball towards Hugo Filipe da Costa Oliveira who placed the ball at the back of the net.
However four minutes later, Birkirkara regained the lead. Jeferson Macedo served Luke Montebello with a cross from the right and the Malta international striker controlled the ball before beating the Hibs custodian.