Valletta maintained a six-point lead on top the BOV Premier League table as they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Hibernians in this weekend’s big match.
An early goal put Hibernians in the driving seat but on the half-hour, Valletta restored equilibrium.
The Paolites had Belgian defender Jason Vandelannoite making his debut after joining the club this week but Adrian Pulis, Ryan Camilleri and Marcelo Dias were both missing. Valletta could not count on new signing Saïdou Madi Panandétiguiri as the international clearance did not arrive in time but Michael Mifsud was back in the starting line-up after a long absence.
Hibernians forged ahead on the 4th minute when off a Clayton Failla corner from the right, there was a deflection by a defender and Rodolfo Soares headed home from close range.
On 13 minutes, Michael Mifsud arrived seconds late for a Roderick Briffa cross from the left. Seven minutes later, Briffa served Gilbert Agius whose low shot was parried by Muscat. A powerful shot by Zongo on 21 minutes was blocked by a defender.
On the half-Hour, Valletta levelled matters when off a Denni corner, headers by Ousseni Zongo and Steve Borg were followed by a Vandelnnoite deflection with Michael Mifsud controlling the ball before hitting past Muscat.
An Edmond Agius effort from outside the area was turned into a corner by Muscat on 32 minutes. Two minutes later, a shot by Mifsud from outside the area ended just wide.
Eight minutes in the second half, Ousseni Zongo controlled the ball on the left but his diagonal shot scraped past the post. An overhead kick by captain Gilbert Agius, following a cross by Denni from the left, was turned into a corner on 66 minutes.
On the 80th, Denni concluded a good run on the left with a shot from outside the area ending just wide. Four minutes later, Mifsud headed wide off a cross by Zongo from the right.
Three minutes in added time, the Paolites appealed for a penalty for a foul on Tarabai but referee Mario Apap awarded a foul outside the area.
Gilbert Agius was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera, Aaron Xuereb, Jason Vandelannoite, Steve Pisani (60’ Jonathan Pearson), Rodolfo Soares, Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Andrew Cohen, Triston Caruana (53’ Peter Anizoba), Edison Luis dos Santos.
Subs not used: Nicholas Grima, Ayrton Azzopardi, Keith Tanti, Scott Chircop, Jonathan Bezzina.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Referee: Richard Mercieca
VALLETTA Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi, Roderick Briffa, Edmond Agius (73’ Jamie Pace), Gilbert Agius (69’ Dyson Falzon), Denni Rocha dos Santos, Ousseni Zongo (86’ Alfred Effiong), William Barbosa, Michael Mifsud.
Subs not used: Matthew Towns, Ramon dos Santos, Samir Arab, Siraj Arab.
Coach: Leonard Farrugia
Asst. Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Mario Apap
Assistant referees: William Debattista, Thomas Debono
Fourth official: Clayton Pisani
Yellow Cards: Barbosa, Muscat
Scorers: 4’ Rodolfo Soares (H); 30’ Michael Mifsud (V)
Qormi joined Sliema Wanderers and Birkirkara in fourth place as they returned to winning ways, defeating neighbours Hamrun Spartans 3-0.
Stephen Azzopardi’s side was coming from three consecutive defeats and with this win, they hope to move back on track in the challenge for a top-six finish. On the other hand, for Hamrun, this was the fourth defeat in five matches and remain fourth from bottom, just three points ahead of wooden-spoonists Marsaxlokk.
Captain Joseph Farrugia was back for Qormi after an injury ruled him for over a month. The Spartans, on the other hand, welcomed back goalkeeper Omar Borg.
The first attempt at goal occurred on 19 minutes when Matthew Bartolo served Jorge Pereira da Silva whose fine effort was turned into a corner by goalkeeper Omar Borg.
Qormi managed to take the lead on 33 minutes when Jorge Pereira da Silva served Joseph Farrugia whose powerful long-distance shot gave Omar Borg no chance.
On 37 minutes, the Yellow Blacks were awarded a rather dubious penalty after Jorge Pereira da Silva ended on the ground. From the penalty spot, Joseph Farrugia’s effort was partially saved by Omar Borg and off the rebound, Matthew Bartolo’s weak shot was neutralised by the Hamrun custodian.
Qormi threatened once again with a powerful drive by Farrugia ending just over the bar on 42 minutes.
Thirteen minutes in the second half, Kevin Sammut had a powerful shot from outside the area blocked by Matthew Farrugia. On 65 minutes, off an inviting cross by Gianluca Calabretta from the left, Dene Shields just failed to connect from in front of goal.
One minute later, in a swift counter-attack, Matthew Bartolo served Jorge Pereira da Silva from the right and the latter tapped the ball past Borg to double the score.
Hamrun went close with a Dene Shields effort which was turned into a corner by Farrugia on 76 minutes.
Qormi were awarded another penalty on the 78th minute after Steve Bonnici floored Jorge Pereira da Silva inside the area. This time, Jorge Pereira da Silva made no mistake to make it 3-0.
A few seconds later, Hamrun were reduced to ten men after goalkeeper Omar Borg was sent off for passing remarks.
Finally in added time, a powerful shot by substitute Luke Sciberras was neutralised by Andrea Cassar.
Joseph Farrugia was voted BOV Player of the Match.
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Jeffrey Chetcuti, Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo, Joseph Farrugia (83’ Dino Cachia), Kenneth Scicluna, Federico Mirarchi, Jonathan Bondin (86’ Gabriel Buttigieg), Jorge Pereira da Silva, Stuart Duff, Abubakar Bello-Osagie (72’ Luke Sciberras).
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Charlon Sammut, Joseph Chetcuti, Stephen Wellman.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
HAMRUN Omar Borg, Steve Bonnici, Matthew Gauci, Nikica Gacesa (85’ Ryan Spiteri), Massimo Grima, Rupert Mangion(69’ Lee James Agius), Carlo Polli, Kevin Sammut, Gianluca Calabretta, Dene Shields, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro (gk Andrea Cassar).
Subs not used: Luke Grech, David Camilleri, Daniel Zerafa, Ayrton Micallef.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Asst. Coach: Vince Carbonaro
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant referees: Chris Francalanza, Roberto Vella
Fourth official: Kevin Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: J. Farrugia, Borg, Chetcuti, Bondin, Grima
Red Cards: 79’ Omar Borg
Scorers: 33’ Joseph Farrugia, 66’ Jorge Pereira da Silva, 78’ Jorge Pereira da Silva (pen)