Hibernians scored three goals in the final twelve minutes of the first half to beat Rabat Ajax 3-0, the fourth win of the season.
Rabat controlled their opponents well during the first half hour but once the Paolites managed to break the deadlock, they never looked back.
The Magpies lacked strikers Ryan Micallef and Nerijus Astrauskas but welcomed back Clive Brincat. On the other hand, Hibs coach Michael Woods had the full squad at his disposal except for Clayton Failla and Jason Vandelannoite.
Rabat had the first attempt at goal on the 2nd minute with a rising shot from a close angle by Justin Felice which ended just over the bar. Andrew Cohen replied with a direct freekick from the left ending just wide for the Paolites on 24 minutes. A Justin Felice freekick ended just over the bar and then a shot from outside the area by David Azzopardi scraped past the post.
Hibernians managed to take the lead on 33 minutes when off an Andrew Cohen freekick from the left, Zoran Levnajic headed home from close range.
Two minutes later, off a Jackson Lima corner from the right, it was Adrian Pulis who headed the ball past goalkeeper Sean Mintoff to double the score.
The Rabat goalkeeper then had to abandon the pitch injured and was replaced by Jonathan Azzopardi.
One minute in added time, the Paolites were awarded a penalty after Dylan Falzon brought Ryan Camilleri down inside the area. From the penalty spot, Jackson Di Lima Siqueira converted to make it 3-0.
Jonathan Azzopardi performed a fine save on John Nwoba on 65 minutes following a cross from the right by Jackson Lima.
Jackson Lima was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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RABAT Sean Mintoff (43’ Jonathan Azzopardi), Christopher Schembri (68’ Patrick Borg), Ivan Carapic, Joseph Caruana, Justin Felice, Adam Smeir, Manuel Moral Fuster (52’ Heiner Backhaus), Dylan Falzon, Clive Brincat, Yan Cauchi, David Azzopardi.
Subs not used: Christian Muscat, Wayne Borg, Shaun Gauci, Clifford Gauci
Coach: Silvio Vella
Asst. Coach: Joe Galea
HIBS Mario Muscat, Adrian Pulis, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen (80’ Johann Bezzina), Jackson Di Lima Siqueira (85’ Ayrton Azzopardi), John Nwoba (71’ Jean Paul Farrugia), Zoran Levnajic, Marcelo Dias.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Keith Tanti, Steve Pisani, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Richard Mercieca
Referee: Malcolm Spiteri
Assistant Referees: Sammy Attard, Luke Portelli
Fourth Official: Fyodor Zammit
Yellow Cards: Schembri, Falzon, Carapic
Scorers: 33’ Zoran Levnaic, 35’ Adrian Pulis, 45+1’ Jackson Lima (pen)
The inclusion of Michael Mifsud made the whole difference for Valletta as they scored four in the last twenty-five minutes to beat Melita 5-1.
The Citizens took the lead on the 15th minute but Melita levelled matters immediately afterwards. However from then onwards, Valletta struggled to penetrate the Amateurs’ defence and it was only once coach Mark Miller included Mifsud and Barbosa as substitutes just past the hour that the Valletta goal machine started to function once again.
Both coaches made a number of changes from their last outing with Matthew Sapiano, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho and Matthew Borg making their first appearance this season for Melita and Dyson Falzon, William Barbosa and Michael Mifsud being left out of the starting line-up for the Citizens.
Valletta took the lead on the 15th minute when off a cross by Ryann Fenech from the left, Denni’s effort hit the crossbar and Gabriel da Silva headed the ball home from close range off the rebound.
However two minutes later, Melita restored equilibrium when Ian Azzopardi brought Julian Galea down inside the area and from the penalty spot, Jovan Vukanic made no mistake.
A Ryan Fenech diagonal shot from the right scraped past the post on 41 minutes. Three minutes later, Luke Micallef sent Luke Sammut through and the latter’s shot was blocked by Manuel Bartolo with Ricardo Filho almost committing an own goal but eventually cleared the ball into safety.
Valletta regained the lead on 65 minutes when off a Gabriel corner from the right, there was a short clearance and substitute Michael Mifsud hit low past Sapiano.
Three minutes later, Jovan Vukanic stopped a goal-bound shot by Gabriel da Silva with his hand leaving referee Kevin Azzopardi no option other than sending him off and ordering a penalty. From the penalty spot, Michael Mifsud converted.
Valletta scored the fourth goal on the 75th minute when a shot by Denni Rocha dos Santos was deflected by Serbian defender Ivan Tufegdzic past Sapiano for an own goal.
Gabriel sealed the issue for Valletta with a fifth goal one minute from time when he tapped the ball home from close range following a pass by Denni from the right, released by Mifsud.
Michael Mifsud was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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MELITA Matthew Sapiano, Daniel Gravino, Ivan Tufegdzic, Matthew Borg, Luke Sammut (64’ Nigel Rizzo), Julian Galea, Manuel Ramon Sierra Camacho, Luke Micallef, Andrew Caruana Scicluna (64’ Kane Micallef), Jose Luis Armaro Negrin (71’ Rudi Alhinho), Jovan Vukanic.
Subs not used: Karl Zahra, Michael Valenzia, Maxime Batel, Karl Vella Petroni.
Coach: Martin Gregory
Asst. Coach: Carmel Busuttil
VALLETTA Manuel Bartolo, Steve Borg, Ian Azzopardi (60’ Michael Mifsud), Jonathan Caruana, Ricardo Barreto da Rocha Filho, Roderick Briffa, Shaun Bajada (75’ Dyson Falzon), Joao Gabriel da Silva, Denni Rocha dos Santos, Ryan Fenech, Leandro da Silva Almeida (60’ William Barbosa).
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Kurt Magro, Edmond Agius, Llywelyn Cremona
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
Referee: Kevin Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Chris Francalanza, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: none
Red Cards: 68’ Jovan Vukanic
Scorers: 15’ Gabriel da Silva (V); 17’ Jovan Vukanic pen (M); 65’ Michael Mifsud (V); 69’ Michael Mifsud pen (V); 75’ own goal Ivan Tufegdzic (V); 89’ Gabriel da Silva (V)