Hibernians bounced back from the mid-week defeat to Balzan as they scored twice early in the second half to beat ten-man Valletta 2-0 at the National Stadium on Sunday. A win which puts the Paolites in second place on the 12-point mark, two ahead of the Citizens.
Valletta have now gone three games without a win following a draw with Balzan and the mid-week defeat to rivals Floriana.
Goalkeeper Andrew Hogg was back in goal for Hibernians while Brazilian striker Jorge da Silva Pereira returned for the Paolites when he was included as a substitute. Valletta, on the other hand, had three changes as Ian Azzopardi, Juan Cruz Gill and Romeu Romao replaced Ryan Camilleri, Llywelyn Cremona and the suspended Leandro Aguirre.
The Citizens were reduced to ten men on the 26th minute when Uchenna Calistus Umeh was sent off by referee Glenn Tonna after he brought down Renan Pimenta Telles just outside the area as the latter was heading towards the area.
Hibernians managed to take the lead nine minutes in the cons half when off a Jackson Lima corner from the right, Rodolfo Soares slotted the ball past goalkeeper Henry Bonello.
Four minutes later, Hibs doubled the score when Joseph Mbong served Johann Bezzina from the left and off the latter’s perfect assist, Jurgen Degabriele hit low past Bonello.
HIBS Andrew Hogg, Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Jackson de Lima Siqueira, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla (79′ Jorge Da Silva Pereira), Renan Pimenta Telles (72′ Juan Manuel Varea), Johann Bezzina, Joseph Mbong (62′ Andrew Cohen), Jurgen Degabriele, Andrei Agius.
Subs not used: Rudy Briffa, Dunstan Vella, Jonathan Pearson, Conner Zammit.
Coach: Mark Miller
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Steve Borg, Juan Cruz Gill, Santiago Malano (77′ Michael Mifsud), Jean Borg (70′ Llywelyn Cremona), Federico Matias Falcone, Uchenna Calistus Umeh, Jhonnattann Benites Da Conceicao (89′ Russell Fenech), Romeu Pericles Romao.
Subs not used: Dziugas Bartkus, Ryan Camilleri, Jurgen Suda, Nicholas Pulis.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Referee: Glen Tonna
Assistant referees: Alan Camilleri, Duncan Sultana
Fourth Official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow cards: Falcone, Pimenta, Romao, Kristensen
Scorers: 54′ Rodolfo Soares, 58′ Jurgen Degabriele
BOV Player of the Match: Renan Telles Pimenta