Newly-promoted Hamrun Spartans had a perfect start on their return to the BOV Premier League after an absence of three years as they defeated Hibernians 3-1 at the Hibernians Stadium.
Hamrun coach Steve D’Amato handed Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Luke Sciberras and Brazilian Patrick Teixeira their debut while Luke Grech made his return for the Spartans after a six-month spell on loan with St. George’s. Hibs, on the other hand, had goalkeeper Andrew Hogg making his debut along with Renan Pimenta Telles and Juan Manuel Varea who however had already played against Spartak Trnava earlier this summer. Johann Bezzina and Timothy Tabone were back after spending last year on loan with Sliema and Tarxien respectively.
The Spartans managed to take the lead on the 35th minute thanks to Jake Grech who picked the ball in midfield and advanced upfield before beating Hogg with a fine rising shot.
Hibernians equalised on the 66th minute when Jackson Lima served Bjorn Kristensen whose conclusion was deflected by Patrick Teixeira past David Cassar.
However five minutes later, Hamrun regained the lead when off a Jake Grech freekick, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza headed the ball home past Hogg.
Victory for the Spartans was beyond doubts four minutes from time when Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, sent through by Jake Grech, beat the Hibs custodian once again to make it 3-1.
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Jackson Lima, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Renan Pimenta Telles, Joseph Essien Mbong (62′ Jurgen Degabriele), Andrei Agius, Johann Bezzina (76′ Andrew Cohen), Timothy Tabone Desira (51′ Juan Manuel Varea).
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Dunstan Vella, Zachary Scerri, Daniel Buckle.
HAMRUN David Cassar, Philip Chircop, Glenn Azzopardi, Mark Anthony Borg, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza (90+2′ Miguel Simiana), Luke Sciberras, Luke Grech, Patrick Jean Teixeira Maia, Jake Grech, Ryan Spiteri (76′ Trevor Cilia), Saturday Nanapere.
Subs not used: Lyden Moore, Luis Miguel Vergara Rodriguez, Jeremy Busuttil, Daniel Debono, Tony Vella Stanyer.
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Chris Francalanza
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Bezzina, Spiteri, Agius, Mbong, Nanapere, Grech
BOV Player of the Match: Jake Grech
Attendance at Hibernians Stadium: 1,052
Meanwhile champions Valletta overcame a stiff challenge offered by FA Trophy winners Sliema Wanderers as they registered a 2-1 win at the Victor Tedescco Stadium to start their BOV Premier League campaign on a positive note.
The Wanderers had Italian goalkeeper Giuseppe Sarao, Brazilian defender Roger de Souza Villas Boas and Bosnian striker Milos Galin making their debut while Matias Muchardi, John Mintoff and Gabriel Aquilina were back after spells on loan with other clubs. Valletta, on the other hand, had Steve Borg, Leandro Aguirre and Santiago Malano making their league debut after playing in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers. Jonathan Caruana and Federico Falcone were missing for the Citizens.
Valletta managed to take the lead after just nine minutes when off a cross by Steve Borg from the right, Llywelyn Cremona headed home past goalkeeper Giuseppe Sarao.
The Wanderers equalised on the 35th minute when off a Gary Muir freekick from the left, the ball was headed by Mathias Muchardi onto Ryan Camilleri who deflected the ball past fellow goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
However the Citizens notched the winner seven minutes from time when off a cross from the left by Aguirre, Romeu Romao’s effort was followed by a short clearance by Roger and the ball reached Roderick Briffa whose fine shot from outside the area beat the Sliema custodian.
Deep into stoppage time, Mark Scerri was sent off for Sliema after receiving a second yellow card for dissent.
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Juan Cruz Gill, Santiago Malano (65′ Romeu Pericles Romao), Michael Mifsud (84′ Jean Borg), Roderick Briffa, Llywelyn Cremona (65′ Uchenna Calistus Umeh), Claudio Pani, Leandro Aguirre, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao.
Subs not used: Maverick Buhagiar, Ian Azzopardi, Russell Fenech, Jurgen Suda.
Coach: Paul Zammit
SLIEMA Giuseppe Sarao, Alex Muscat, Matias Muchardi, Roger de Souza Villas Boas, John Mintoff (77′ Jean Paul Farrugia), Mark Scerri, Milos Galin, Gabriel Aquilina (88′ Michele Sansone), Peter Xuereb, Gary Muir, Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: Glenn Zammit, Luca Martinelli, Clive Psaila, Kurt Shaw, Beppe Muscat.
Coach: John Buttigieg
Referee: Philip Farrugia
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Martin Borg
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Galin, Xuereb, Scerri, Mifsud, Cruz, Umeh
Red Cards: 90+3′ Mark Scerri
BOV Player of the Match: Roderick Briffa
Attendance at the Victor Tedesco Stadium: 919