Hibernians moved back in second place, four points behind leader Valletta as they registered a comfortable 5-0 win over Hamrun Spartans.
The Paolites were comfortably in control right from the start, scoring two in the first half and adding another three after the break.
Besides the injured Ryan Camilleri and Adrian Pulis, Hibernians lacked the suspended Andrew Cohen. Hamrun, on the other hand, had Ronnie Hartvig making his debut but Gianluca Calabretta was ruled out through suspension.
The Paolites missed an incredible chance to take the lead on the 10th minute when of an inviting pass by Peter Anizoba from the right, Edison Luis dos Santos served Clayton Failla rather than hitting the ball home and the Malta international midfielder concluded wide.
However Hibernians took the lead on 22 minutes when off a Jackson Lima corner, Peter Anizoba headed the ball down for Edison Luis dos Santos to tap the ball home from close range.
The Spartans replied with a Massimo Grima freekick from which Dene Shields’ header was parried by Muscat on 29 minutes. Seven minutes later, on the other side of the pitch, Clayton Failla concluded a good run on the left flank with a low shot which was neutralised by Omar Borg.
Hibernians doubled the score on 45 minutes thanks to a shot from outside the area by Jackson Lima following a good pass by Clayton Failla from the left.
After the break, Hibs continued to hold the initiative and on the 54th minute, Tarabai headed just wide off a cross from the left by Jackson Lima.
The Paolites were awarded a penalty on 73 minutes after Lee James Agius floored Edison Luis dos Santos inside the area. From the penalty spot, Clayton Failla converted.
Two minutes later, Tarabai went close once again but was unlucky to hit the far post with an angled shot from the right. On the 77th, the Brazilian striker had another fierce shot from the right which scraped past the post.
Four minutes from time, Hibs scored a fourth goal as Clayton Failla, served by substitute Johann Bezzina, managed to beat Omar Borg with a rising shot from just outside the area.
Hamrun could have scored a consolation goal one minute from time but Massimo Grima’s direct freekick ended wide.
However Hibs had other ideas and added another goal one minute in added time as a Steve Pisani effort hit the crossbar and after a first attempt by Marcelo Dias was blocked, Pisani managed to place the ball at the back of the net off the rebound.
Edison Luis dos Santos was voted BOV Player of the Match.
HIBS Mario Muscat, Edward Herrera, Rodolfo Soares, Aaron Xuereb (35’ Steve Pisani), Jason Vandelannoite, Jonathan Pearson, Clayton Failla, Bjorn Kristensen, Jackson Di Lima Siqueira (78’ Marcelo Dias), Peter Anizoba Chizoba (85’ Johann Bezzina), Edison Luis dos Santos.
Subs not used: Luke Bonnici, Scott Chircop, Ayrton Azzopardi, Brandon Muscat.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Richard Mercieca
HAMRUN Omar Borg, Steve Bonnici (49’ Glenn Azzopardi), Matthew Gauci, Ronnie Hartvig, Massimo Grima, David Camilleri (76’ Daniel Zerafa), Dene Shields, Lee James Agius, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro, Kevin Sammut, Gaetan Spiteri (81’ Ayrton Micallef).
Subs not used: Andrea Cassar, Rupert Mangion, Ryan Spiteri, Luke Grech.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Asst. Coach: Vince Carbonaro
Referee: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Assistant referees: Ingmar Spiteri, Joe Camilleri
Fourth official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: Bonnici, dos Santos, Azzopardi
Scorers: 22’ Edison Luis dos Santos, 45’ Jackson Lima Siqueira, 73’ Clayton Failla (pen), 86’ Clayton Failla, 90+1’ Steve Pisani
In the first match, Mqabba and Tarxien Rainbows earned a point each as they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Mqabba join Mosta on 17 points, staying three points ahead of the Rainbows, who are second from bottom.
The Rainbows lacked Carl Sammut, Ricardo Costa and Daniel Mariano Bueno but Orosco Anonam returned after missing the last game. Mqabba were in full strength but foreigners Thiago dos Santos Mazzitelli and Bojan Mamic started the game on the bench.
Tarxien had the first attempt at goal on the 12th minute with a long-distance shot by Carlo Mamo which was neutralised by Kris Calleja.
However a minute later, the Rainbows took the lead through Jimmy Nzinga Mayasi who received a pass by Orosco Anonam and beat Calleja with a shot from the right.
John Paul Muscat tried his luck with a shot from the right from outside the area on the 44th minute but goalkeeper David Cassar performed a good save.
A minute later, Mqabba levelled matters when direct from a corner, John Paul Muscat managed to beat the Tarxien custodian.
Four minutes in the second half, the Reds went close to gaining the lead when off a cross by Muscat from the right, Mauro Bonnici’s fine header hit the cross bar. Four minutes later, a Claudio Calleja solo effort ended with a shot from outside the area, parried by Cassar.
On 66 minutes, Kris Calleja intercepted a good pass by Grioli for Mayasi and a minute later, the Mqabba goalkeeper neutralised a good attempt by the Danish striker.
John Paul Muscat was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MQABBA Kris Calleja, Clayton Micallef (77’ Thiago dos Santos Mazzitelli), Mauro Bonnici, Claudio Calleja (69’ Ryan Sammut), Branislav Timotic, John Paul Muscat (86’ Marlon Briffa), Marko Potezica, David Azzopardi, Pierre Grima, John Nwoba, Julian Briffa.
Subs not used: Franklin Azzopardi, Bojan Mamic, Mark Anthony Psaila, Rene Duca.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Asst. Coach: Renzo Kerr Cumbo
TARXIEN David Cassar, Steve Sadowski, Carlo Mamo, Manuel Caruana, Everton Antonio Pereira, Adrian Carabott (72’ Mark Tanti), Jimmy Nzinga Mayasi, Orosco Anonam, Ryan Mintoff, Lee Galea, Justin Grioli (90’ Warren Zerafa).
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Stefan Giglio, Karl Pulo, Clive Fenech, Julian Vella.
Coach: Patrick Curmi
Asst. Coach: Michael Church
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth official: Esther Azzopardi
Yellow Cards: Nwoba, Grima, Timotic, Sadowski
Scorers: 13’ Jimmy Nzinga Mayasi (T); 45’ John Paul Muscat (M)