Hibernians maintained their hundred per cent record as they defeated Balzan by the odd goal in five despite having two players sent off.
Balzan took the lead mid-way through the first half but the Paolites turned the score in their favour with two goals. However just before the end of the first half, Mario Muscat was sent off for Hibernians and Balzan were awarded a penalty from which they equalised. After the break, Hibs regained the lead and although Marcelo Dias was sent off, they maintained the lead until the end with their opponents also ending in ten men.
The Paolites will therefore lack both Muscat and Dias for next weekend’s big match against Valletta.
Jonathan Francica and Pedrinho were missing for Balzan while Hibernians were in full strength apart from Clayton Failla and Jason Vandelannoite.
Jackson Lima had the first attempt at goal but the ball ended just wide and then Elton Alexandre da Silva tried his luck with a shot from outside the area ending just over the bar.
Balzan took the lead on the 20th when off a cross by Christian Caruana, Elton Alexandre da Silva anticipated the goalkeeper and a defender, heading the ball home.
Hibs levelled matters on 36 minutes when off a Jackson Lima corner from the right, Adrian Pulis rose high to head home.
Three minutes later, off a cross by Marcelo Dias from the right, substitute John Nwoba went close with a fine effort from the edge of the area but Matthew Camilleri turned the ball into a corner.
Two minutes from the end of the first half, Matthew Mendy missed an excellent opportunity for Balzan hitting wide from in front of the goalkeeper when served by Renato Conceicao from the right.
On the 45th minute, Hibernians forged ahead when off an inviting pass by Dias from the right, Andrew Cohen flicked the ball home.
However in stoppage time, Hibs goalkeeper Mario Muscat brought Renato Conceicao down inside the area. Referee Adrian Azzopardi sent off the Hibernians goalkeeper and Daniel Balzan replaced Adrian Pulis. From the penalty spot, Elton Alexandre da Silva converted to equalise.
Five minutes in the second half, the Paolites regained the lead when off a Jackson Lima corner from the right, substitute John Nwoba headed the ball down, bouncing on the goalkeeper and into the net.
A fine effort by Renato Conceicao from the right was neutralised by Hibs goalkeeper Daniel Balzan on 67 minutes.
Hibs were reduced to nine men on 71 minutes after Marcelo Dias received a second yellow card for what seemed an accidental handling of the ball. Two minutes later, substitute Malcolm Licari was sent off for Balzan, just a few seconds after replacing Dylan Grima, for what was adjudged to be an attempted kick in the direction of the goalkeeper.
Four minutes from time, Balzan could have levelled matters but Daniel Balzan blocked substitute Martin Deyanov’s conclusion following a good solo effort. Three minutes later, Elton’s header, off a cross by Jamie Pace from the left, was turned into a corner by Balzan.
Andrew Cohen was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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BALZAN Matthew Camilleri, Yessous Camilleri, Matthew Mendy, Stefan Giglio (76’ Michael Borg), Bjorn Bondin (60’ Martin Deyanov), Jamie Pace, Renato Garcia Conceicao, Dylan Grima (72’ Malcolm Licari), Christian Caruana, Rennie Forace, Elton Alexandre da Silva.
Subs not used: Fredrick Tabone, Kevin Camilleri, Jurgen Muscat, Clint Micallef.
Coach: Joe Borg
Team Manager: Ivan Zammit
HIBS Mario Muscat, Adrian Pulis (45+2’ Daniel Balzan gk), Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen (80’ Johann Bezzina), Zoran Levnajic, Marcelo Dias, Jean Paul Farrugia (21’ John Nwoba), Jackson di Lima Siqueira.
Subs not used: Ayrton Azzopardi, Keith Tanti, Steve Pisani, Anderson Mendes Ribeiro.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Richard Mercieca
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant Referees: Duncan Sultana, Roberto Vella
Fourth Official: Paul Caruana
Yellow Cards: Lima, Dias, Giglio, Mendy
Red Cards: 45+1’ Mario Muscat, 71’ Marcelo Dias, 73’ Malcolm Licari
Scorers: 20′ Elton Alexandre da Silva (B); 36′ Adrian Pulis (H); 45′ Andrew Cohen (H); 45+3′ Elton Alexandre da Silva pen (B); 50′ John Nwoba (H)
Mosta registered the third win on the trot as they came back from one goal down to beat Qormi 4-2. A win which puts Steve D’Amato’s side in fourth place on nine points, three behind Birkirkara and Valletta.
The Blues welcomed back Ryan Grech but lacked Daniel Bogdanovic and Alex Cini while Qormi could not count on the injured Triston Caruana.
Mosta had the first attempt at goal on the 18th minute when a Danail Mitev freekick was deflected into a corner by a defender.
Qormi, however, managed to take the lead on 22 minutes when Gaetan Spiteri received a pass on the right and his conclusion beat Haber despite the attempts of two Mosta defenders to block his effort.
Mosta equalised on the 36th minute when off a cross by Bryan Agius from the left, Danail Mitev headed the ball home past goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia.
Two minutes in the second half, the Blues forged ahead when off a Danail Mitev corner, the ball hit Abubakar Bello-Osagie ending at the back of the net for an own goal.
Mosta scored the third goal on 52 minutes when off a low cross by Obinna Obiefule from the right, goalkeeper Matthew Farrugia slightly deflected the ball falling into the path of Firas Aboulezz who hit the ball home.
Qormi were back in contention on the hour as they reduced the gap through Kris Thackray who controlled the ball off following a freekick, chesting the ball down and beating Justin Haber.
But ten minutes from time, Mosta restored a two-goal lead when off a cross by Obinna Obiefule from the right, Ousseni Zongo tapped the ball home from close-range.
Danail Mitev was voted BOV Player of the Match.
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MOSTA Justin Haber, Mano Micallef, Ryan Grech (81’ Jonathan Bajada), Bryan Agius (70’ Steve Bezzina), Luke Dimech, Ferdinando Apap, Obinna Obiefule, Firas Aboulezz, Carlos Campagnoli, Ousseni Zongo (89′ Steve Onyii Chiemeka), Danail Mitev.
Subs not used: Noel Attard, Emanuel Okafor, Adrian Farrugia, John Paul Grima.
Coach: Steve D’Amato
QORMI Matthew Farrugia, Kris Thackray, Roderick Sammut, Matthew Bartolo, Vincenzo Pisani, Joseph Chetcuti (59’ Leighton Grech), Abubakar Bello-Osagie (82’ Luke Sciberras), Matthew Gauci, Edison Bilbao Zarate (72’ Sebastian Aurelio Siritto), Gaetan Spiteri, Jonathan Bondin.
Subs not used: Steve Sultana, Carmelo Farrugia, Alessio Cassar, Gabriel Buttigieg.
Coach: Stephen Azzopardi
Referee: Frank Bourgnon
Assistant Referees: Claudio De Carolis, Christophe Pires
Fourth Official: Laurent Kopriwa
Yellow Cards: R. Grech
Scorers: 22’ Gaetan Spiteri (Q); 36’ Danail Mitev (M); 47’ own goal Abubakar Bello-Osagie (M); 52’ Firas Aboulezz (M); 60’ Kris Thackray (Q); 80’ Ousseni Zongo (M)