Leaders Valletta maintained a three-point lead over second-placed Hibernians as they beat Hamrun Spartans 4-0.
Having no less than four players suspended and others injured, the Spartans could only do their best to limit the damage.
Before the game, Valletta and Hamrun players held a message against domestic violence as part of a campaign meant to raise awareness on this issue as part of a project co-financed through the European Social Fund, entitled “ESF 3.43 Dignity for Domestic Violence Survivors.”
The Spartans were a depleted side due to the absence of the injured Omar Borg and Roderick Fenech and the suspended Lee James Agius, Kevin Sammut, Rupert Mangion and Gaetan Spiteri. Ian Azzopardi and Michael Mifsud were ruled out for Valletta.
The Citizens could have easily forged ahead on the 5th minute when Massimo Grima handled the ball off a cross by Denni from the right. However the Brazilian striker’s effort from the penalty spot was neutralised by Andrea Cassar.
On the half hour, Valletta were awarded another penalty for another handling, this time by Matthew Gauci. William Barbosa made no mistake to put Valletta ahead.
The Spartans replied with a good Carlo Polli effort whose rising shot was turned into a corner by Andrew Hogg on 34 minutes.
Valletta doubled the score on 39 minutes when off a perfect pass by Dyson Falzon from the left, Denni Rocha dos Santos beat Cassar with a rising shot on the turn.
Six minutes later, Ryan Fenech went close for the Citizens with a shot from the right which was partially saved by the Hamrun goalkeeper. The former Hamrun midfielder then had a direct freekick ending just over the bar on 68 minutes. A shot from outside the area by Denni ended just wide.
Four minutes from time, Valletta increased the lead when off a cross by Denni from the right, Gilbert Agius headed the ball home past Cassar.
Three minutes in added time, Ousseni Zongo sealed the issue with a fourth goal thanks to a great rising shot from outside the area.
Denni Rocha dos Santos was voted BOV Player of the Match.
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg (88’ Ramon dos Santos), Alfred Effiong (72’ Ousseni Zongo), Roderick Briffa, Edmond Agius (79’ Jamie Pace), Ryan Fenech, Gilbert Agius, Dyson Falzon, Denni Rocha dos Santos, William Barbosa.
Subs not used: Matthew Towns, Samir Arab, Glenn Cassar, Siraj Arab.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Asst. Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
HAMRUN Andrea Cassar, Glenn Azzopardi, Gianluca Calabretta (75’ Ayrton Micallef)(81’ Craig Debattista), Matthew Gauci, Massimo Grima, Nikica Gacesa, David Camilleri, Dene Shields, Daniel Zerafa, Carlo Polli, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro.
Subs not used: Jean Claude Debattista, Steve Bonnici, Luis Fernando Silva, Luke Grech, Carlos Eduardo Toneto Porcari.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Assistant Coach: Vince Carbonaro
Referee: Dejan Jakimovski (MKD)
Assistant referees: Dejan Kostadinov (MKD), Andrej Giev (MKD)
Fourth official: Faton Mustafi (MKD)
Yellow Cards: Grima, Shields, G. Agius, Gacesa, Barbosa
Scorers: 31’ William Barbosa, 39’ Denni Rocha dos Santos, 86’ Gilbert Agius, 90’+2’ Ousseni Zongo
A brace by Steve Pisani enabled Hibernians to return to winning ways as they defeated Marsaxlokk 2-0.
The Paolites were comfortably in control throughout the whole ninety minutes, scoring twice in the first half to secure the three points.
Hibernians lacked Brazilians Diego Balbinot, Marcelo Dias and Edison Luis dos Santos together with Ryan Camilleri, Adrian Pulis, Jonathan Pearson and Matthew Tabone. On the other hand, Marsaxlokk had only fourteen players at their disposal due to the absence of Emiliano Lattes and the suspended Clive Brincat and Sunday Eboh.
The Paolites managed to take the lead on 17 minutes when Andrew Cohen, served by Kristensen, had a shot from the left blocked by Christian Cassar and off the rebound, Steve Pisani slammed the ball home.
Ten minutes later, Triston Caruana tried his luck with a low shot from outside the area ending just wide. Caruana then had another low shot neutralised by Cassar following a cross by Failla from the left on 37 minutes.
Three minutes from the end of the first half, Hibernians doubled the score when a shot by Triston Caruana was blocked by Cassar and off the rebound, Steve Pisani placed the ball at the back of the net.
Five minutes in the second half, Andrew Cohen hit wide from the edge of the area following a pass by Failla from the left. Five minutes later, Christian Cassar performed a fine save on an Andrew Cohen freekick, turning the ball into a corner. Clayton Failla then hit the crossbar with a powerful drive when served by Pisani on 67 minutes.
Steve Pisani was voted BOV Player of the Match.
M’XLOKK Christian Cassar, Kevin Polidano, Patrick Borg, Jonathan Xerri (57’ Stefan Cutajar), Sacha Borg, Carlo Mamo, Modesto Valeriani, Malcolm Licari, Gary Caruana, Jean Paul Farrugia (86’ Jean Claude Vella), Darrell Grech.
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci.
Coach: Anton Cremona
HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera (93’ Ayrton Azzopardi), Aaron Xuereb, Rodolfo Soares, Bjorn Kristensen, Dylan Sammut, Clayton Failla, Triston Caruana, Andrew Cohen, Steve Pisani, Johann Bezzina (82’ Scott Chircop).
Subs not used: Luke Bonnici, Brandon Gatt, Karl Conti, Brandon Muscat, Peter Anizoba.
Coach: Mark Miller
Assistant Coach: Richard Mercieca
Referee: Andre Arciola
Assistant referees: Mariano Debono, Roberto Vella
Fourth official: Adrian Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Valeriani
Scorers: 17’ Steve Pisani, 42’ Steve Pisani