Valletta turn defeat into victory to stay close to leaders

Valletta maintained hopes of securing the title as they came from behind to beat Hibernians 3-1. A win which puts the Citizens once again four points behind leaders Birkirkara.

For the Paolites, this was the sixth consecutive defeat, leaving them anchored at the bottom of the Championship Pool, together with rivals Tarxien Rainbows.

Valletta lacked Edmond Agius and Jamie Pace as both were serving a one-match ban. Hibs coach Mark Miller, on the other hand, could not count on Christian Callejas and Miguel Lopes De Pina.

Hibernians managed to take the lead on 23 minutes when goalkeeper Andrew Hogg received a back-pass by Jordi Cruijff and in an attempt to clear the ball into safety, he incredibly placed the ball at the back of the net for a most dramatic own goal.

Valletta levelled matters on 32 minutes with a goal by Michael Mifsud who received a pass on the right, rounded a defender before beating Mario Muscat with a low shot from the edge of the area.

One minute from the end of the first half, Valletta went close to taking the lead with a powerful shot by Njongo Priso which was deflected into a corner. On the other side of the pitch, Triston Caruana tested Andrew Hogg with a fine shot from the edge of the area.

After the break, the Citizens held the initiative going close with attempts by Njongo Priso and Scerri which were however blocked by the Hibs defence. On the other side of the pitch, Andrew Cohen concluded a good run with an angled shot which was partially saved by the Valletta custodian. On the hour, a great shot from outside the area by Gilbert Agius was turned into a corner by Mario Muscat.

Valletta forged ahead on 72 minutes when off a Steve Borg throw-in, Terence Scerri controlled before beating Muscat with a fine shot.

Two minutes later, the Citizens sealed the issue with another goal when off a cross from the right, the ball reached Jordi Cruijff who slammed the ball past the Hibs custodian.

Hibernians replied with a Jean Paul Farrugia header off a freekick by Cohen from the right.

Michael Mifsud concluded a good run on the left with a low shot which scraped past the post four minutes from time.

Finally substitute Ndubisi Chukunyere had a close-range header neutralised by Hogg following a cross from the left by Chris Camilleri.

Njongo Priso was voted BOV Player of the Match.

VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Kenneth Scicluna, Steve Borg, Jordi Cruijff, Roderick Briffa (81’ Dylan Grima), Luke Dimech, Gilbert Agius (76’ Dyson Falzon), Declan O’Brien (65’ Kevin Sammut), Michael Mifsud, Terence Scerri, Njongo Priso.
Subs not used:. Nicky Vella, Cleavon Frendo, Yessous Camilleri, Steve Bezzina.
Coach: Ton Caanen
Team Manager: Nicky Saliba

HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera, Aaron Xuereb, Yan Cauchi (51’ Matthew Tabone), Jonathan Caruana, Jonathan Pearson, Chris Camilleri, Triston Caruana (70’ Jean Paul Farrugia), Elton Morelato, Andrew Cohen, Ben Camilleri (89’ Ndubisi Chukunyere).
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Dylan Sammut, Rene Duca, Adrian Pulis.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Edmond Lufi

Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Philip Agius, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Alan Mario Sant
Yellow Cards: O’Brien, Herrera, Priso, Agius
Scorers: 23’ own goal Andrew Hogg (H); 32’ Michael Mifsud (V), 72’ Terence Scerri (V), 74’ Jordi Cruijff (V)

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