Valletta moved three points clear on top the BOV Premier League as they came from behind to beat Pembroke Athleta 3-2.
Winston Muscat’s side twice managed to take the lead but each time, Valletta restored equilibrium, notching the winner through Michael Mifsud who was scoring his first goal since re-joining the club.
Pembroke managed to take the lead on the 5th minute when off a cross by Gustavo Villalobos, Siraj Arab Eddin’s header gave goalkeeper Henry Bonello no chance.
However Valletta levelled matters on the 15th when off a Jhonnattann corner, the Pembroke defence failed to clear the ball into safety and Romeu Pericles Romao placed the ball at the back of the net from close range.
Pembroke regained the lead eight minutes int he second half when off a cross from the left, a header by Gustavo Villalobos was partially saved by Henry Bonello but the American striker hammered the ball home off the rebound.
Valletta equalised on the hour when off a cross by Federico Falcone, there was a short clearance by a defender and Roderick Briffa’s powerful drive beat goalkeeper Mario Muscat.
Pembroke were reduced to ten men on the 75th minute when Paltemio Barbetti was sent off by referee Esther Azzopardi for kicking an opponent in an off the ball situation.
The Citizens took full advantage as they forged ahead a minute later when off a corner by Jhonnattann from the left, Michael Mifsud beat the Pembroke custodian to make it 3-2.
PEMBROKE Mario Muscat, Zoran Levnaic, Alex Cini, Miguel Attard, Owen Bugeja, Paltemio Barbetti, Kyle O’Brien, Siraj Arab Eddin (65’ Gustavo de Paulo Da Nobrega), Ariel Laudisi, Patmore Shereni, Gustavo Villalobos (80’ Terence Agius).
Subs not used: Matthew Farrugia, Rennie Tanti, Tyron Fenech, Neil Grech, Geoffrey Spiteri.
Coach: Winston Muscat
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Ryan Camilleri, Michael Mifsud (80’ Nicholas Pulis), Roderick Briffa, Jean Borg, Federico Matias Falcone, Llywelyn Cremona (59’ Uchenna Calistus Umeh), Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao (89’ Jurgen Suda), Romeu Pericles Romao
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Diego Douglas Balbinot, Daniel Camilleri, Russell Fenech.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Esther Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Luke Portelli, Martin Borg
Fourth Official: Matthew Degabriele
Yellow cards: Cremona, Cini, Romeu
Red Card: 75’ Paltemio Barbetti
Scorers: 5’ Siraj Eddin Arab, 15’ Romeu Pericles Romao, 53’ Gustavo Villalobos,60’ Roderick Briffa, 76’Michael Mifsud
BOV Player of the Match: Roderick Briffa
Renato Vella reporting from the Hibernians Stadium
Meanwhile at the National Stadium, Mosta and Tarxien Rainbows shared the spoils in a goalless draw.
Despite the absence of Bruno Giglio de Oliveira, Carlos Menendez Hevia and Joao Pedro Oliveira Santos all ruled out through suspension, new signings Alex Nilsson, John Mintoff and Sergio Fernandez Prendes all started the game on the bench with the former Qormi striker being included as a substitute. Mosta, on the other hand, had Sibi Gwar and Leonard Njousso making their debut.
Both sides had their fair share of scoring opportunities during the first half with Omar Borg and Andrea Cassar performing good saves at point blank on Ayrton Azzopardi and Godwin Mensha.
Alex da Paixao Alves was unlucky to hit the foot of the upright fourteen minutes in the second half.
MOSTA Omar Borg, Tyrone Farrugia, Jonas Rodrigues Ekani, Godwin Mensha, Onyekachi Okonkwo, Osa Guobadia (74′ Lyden Micallef), Kyle Frendo, Dyson Falzon (70′ Adrian Borg), Fatai Alabi, Sibi Gwar (68′ James Brincat), Leonard Njousso.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Neil Frendo, Dexter Xuereb, Gordon Saliba.
Coach: Anton Cremona
TARXIEN Andrea Cassar, Ebiabowei Baker, Timothy Tabone Desira, Triston Caruana, Brandon Muscat, Ayrton Azzopardi, Roderick Bajada (46′ Manuel Caruana), Luke Montebello (73′ Alex Nilsson), Daniel Zerafa (32′ Matthew Tabone), Alex da Paixao Alves, Claudio Frances.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Sergio Fernandez Prendes, Ryan Spiteri, John Mintoff.
Coach: Jacques Scerri
Referee: Sandro Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, William Debattista
Fourth Official: Malcolm Spiteri
Yellow Cards: M. Caruana, T. Farrugia, Ekani, A. Azzopardi
BOV Player of the Match: