SANTA LUCIA 1
Busuttil 15; Keqi 26, Paiber 77 pen
J. Arcibald-5, A. Prates-5, J. Pisani-5, N. Pulis-5, G. Conti-5 (46 J Tanti-5.5), P. Mota-5 (46 V. Plut-6), A. Da Silva Souza, F. Rodrigues-5, V. Filho-5, J. Zerafa-5, D. Xuereb-4.
G. Kitanov-6, A. Magri Overand-6 (85 M. Micallef), C. Rutjens-5.5, Z. Cassar-6, K. Keqi-7 (85 E. Rebenja), J. Arias-6.5, A. Ciolacu-7 (75 A. Ceseres), B. Paiber-6, E. Callegari-6 J. Busuttil-6 (59 D. Agius), R. Camenzuli-6 (77 A. Garzia)
Referee: Emmanuel Grech.
Yellow cards: Rutjens, Prates, Rodrigues, Zerafa, Xuereb, Alan, Tanti.
Red card: Alan (SL) 88.
BOV Player of the match: Kristian Keqi (Floriana).
Floriana cruised to their fifth Premier League victory of the season to climb second in the standings behind runaway leaders Hibernians as struggling Santa Lucia’s problems piled up.
Jan Busuttil fired Floriana into an early lead with a sweetly-struck goal. Italian striker Kristian Keqi put them 2-0 up inside the first half an hour.
Former Floriana striker Vito Plut pulled one back for Santa Lucia ten minutes after half-time. But Brandon Paiber wrapped up proceedings with a penalty.
It was Floriana who flew out of the blocks and stunned Santa Lucia with two early goals.
Andrei Ciolacu broke through the centre and laid it off to Busuttil who fired the ball high into the Saints net.
And nine minutes later, a rampant Floriana double their advantage as the match threatened to turn into a nightmare for Oliver Spiteri’s side.
Ciolacu, who was superb throughout, again pierced Santa Lucia’s midfield as he received the ball from José Arias before cutting the ball across to Keqi who expertly rolled the ball into an empty net with a composed finish.
Then, on 42 minutes, Saints goalkeeper Julian Archibald blocked Busuttil’s effort when the Greens midifielder fired a low free-kick into the corner.
Saints’ confidence was visibly knocked as a mistake from the defence let in Ryan Camenzuli and Keqi could have added a third for Floriana with a powerful drive that crashed against the crossbar.
Sadly for Floriana, half-time seemingly took the spark out of the Greens’ fireworks.
Spiteri threw caution to the wind and made a double substitution at half-time when he withdrew Giancarlo Conti and Patrick Mota for Jan Tanti and Vito Pluto.
And the two substitutes combined well ten minutes after half-time with the former Floriana striker Plut rewarded with a goal that gave Santa Lucia a lifeline. Tanti released Plut who shot behind Georgi Kitanov.
But any hope Santa Lucia had of mounting a revival appeared to be snuffed out when Floriana added a third on 77 minutes.
Dexter Xuereb was adjudged to have handled the box in the box and Brandon Paiber scored from the ensuing spot kick.
And Santa Lucia’s miserable afternoon got worse seven minutes from time when Alan da Silva Souza was shown the red card for two bookable offences in quick succession.
First, the Brazilian was booked for simulation and then was showed a second yellow card for protests.