Kerċem Ajax survived the second-half dismissal of Luis Henrique Santana Motta to score twice and complete a remarkable come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Oratory Youths to clinch top spot in the GFA Division One.
For the Ajax this was their second successive victory to further rubberstamp their bright start to the season.
The match between Kerċem and Oratory turned out to be a well-contested encounter where the win could have gone for either side.
The Youths had a better start and opened the score after four minutes of play when they were awarded a penalty for a foul by goalie Gaetano Bugeja on Goncalves Barbosa.
Pablo Vinicius De Moraes Ferreira stepped up to convert from the spot.
Five minutes later, Kerċem levelled the score through a close-range header by Andrew Mizzi.
Although the two sides kept pushing forward, the score remained unchanged until the break.
The Youths took charge in the initial stages of the second period as Kerċem were reduced to ten men when Santana Motta was sent off on 47 minutes for stopping a goal scoring chance.
From the resultant free-kick Oratory regained the lead through Rodrigo Ost Dos Santos.
Kerċem refused to throw in the towel and on 64 minutes Sebastien Martinez Turizo made it 2-2 when he scored directly from a free-kick.
When it looked as thought that the match would finish in a draw, the Ajax scored the decisive goal. The clocked marked 86 minutes when Andrew Mizzi hit a shot on the run that flew past the Oratory goalkeeper and into the net.
In the first match of the weekend, Nadur Youngsters obtained a hard-earned 1-0 win over Victoria Hotspurs.
The Youngsters were favourites to earn the three points from this encounter but their strikers were too erratic in front of goal while the Hotspurs goalkeeper was in a good form to keep his side in contention for a positive result.
The Hotspurs gained confidence as time passed by and could have scored midway through the second period but Nadur’s goalkeeper denied efforts from Etienne Xiberras, Kebell Suso Kebba and Elkin Serrano Valero.
Nadur finished the match with ten men when on 77 minutes Ederson Bruno Fernandes was shown a red card after committing a second bookable offence.
However, the Hotspurs failed to capitalise and Nadur managed to score the decisive goal on 80 minutes through a close-range shot by Marcelo Barbosa.
Title candidates Għajnsielem also obtained their first win in the championship as they defeated SK Victoria Wanderers after netting three goals scored during the second period.
The Wanderers created some good scoring opportunities as they came close to surprise their more-quoted opponents during the first half.
But after the break Għajnsielem took full command and ended up obtaining a deserved win.
The Blacks took the lead on 66 minutes when Dejan Galic took a quick free-kick and substitute Sam Frank Bajada came from behind a static defence to place easily in goal among protests by the Citizens.
The Blacks continued to produce pressure and made sure of the points through a brace by Igor Nedeljkovic at the death.
The other match between Xewkija Tigers and Sannat Lions ended in a 0-0 draw.
Xewkija saw more of the ball during the encounter but they found it difficult to create serious scoring opportunities.
This was Sannat’s second consecutive draw while Xewkija missed an opportunity to obtain a second consecutive win in the championship.
NEXT FIXTURES AT GOZO STADIUM
PLAYING ON FRIDAY
Nadur Y. vs Xewkija T. 19.00
PLAYING ON SATURDAY
SK Victoria vs Victoria H. 18.00
PLAYING ON SUNDAY
Kercem A. vs Għajnsielem 18.00
PLAYING ON MONDAY
Sannat L. vs Oratory Y. 19.00