Hibernians came back from two goals down to beat Sliema Wanderers 3-2 to join Birkirkara on top the BOV Premier League table on 39 points, six ahead of Valletta, who however have a game in hand.
Although the Paolites created the better chances early in the game, Sliema scored twice in the first half but after the break, Hibs showed great determination to score three goals and take the three points home.
Hibs lacked Rodolfo Soares while Sliema could not count on Ian Zammit but Mark Scerri was back after serving a one-match ban.
Knowing that a win would put them on top together with Birkirkara, the Paolites went out in search of an early goal, going close mainly thanks to Edison Luis dos Santos.
However the Wanderers managed to take the lead on the 27th minute when Shaun Bajada managed to beat Mario Muscat with a beautiful rising shot with the ball ending in the top left corner.
Sliema gained confidence and Stanley Ohawuchi tried his luck with a diagonal shot from the right which was blocked by Muscat on the half-hour.
Four minutes from half-time, Sliema doubled the score. Matias Muchardi served Miguel Ciantar whose powerful drive gave Mario Muscat no chance.
Seven minutes in the second half, Clayton Failla had a close-range header blocked by Glenn Zammit into a corner. From the resulting corner, Adrian Pulis’s header was cleared off the goal line by Gatt Baldacchino. Obinna Obiefule’s low shot from the edge of the area was turned into a corner by the Sliema goalkeeper on 58 minutes.
Hibernians pulled one back on 66 minutes with Jonathan Pearson heading the ball home from close range following a Jackson Lima corner.
Alex Muscat came to the rescue on the 70th clearing the ball into safety off an inviting cross from the right by Tarabai. On the other side of the pitch, Adrian Pulis risked committing an own goal but Mario Muscat somehow saved.
Hibernians levelled matters on the 78th minute when off a cross from the left, Tarabai served Jackson Lima who placed the ball at the back of the net.
Two minutes later, Sliema were unlucky to hit the upright with a Mark Scerri long-distance effort.
Hibs were awarded a penalty on the 82nd minute when Tarabai entered the penalty area but had his attempt blocked, Obinna Obiefule took the rebound, only to be floored by Alex Muscat. From the penalty spot, Clayton Failla made no mistake to put the Paolites 3-2 ahead.
Clayton Failla was voted BOV Player of the Match.
SLIEMA Glenn Zammit, Alex Muscat, Luca Martinelli, Stanley Ohawuchi, Paltemio Barbetti, Mark Scerri, Clifford Gatt Baldacchino, Ivan Woods (11’ Miguel Ciantar) (63’ John Mintoff), Shaun Bajada, Matias Muchardi (86’ Alain Faccini), Stefano Bianciardi.
Subs not used: James Abela, Luigi Ruggiero, Alain Faccini, Josef Mifsud, Beppe Muscat.
Coach: Alfonso Greco
Asst. Coach: JoJo Bajada
Goalkeepers’ Coach: Roderick Agius
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Adrian Pulis, Jonathan Pearson, Zoran Levnajic (46’ Obinna Obiefule), Bjorn Kristensen, Marcelo Dias, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Andrew Cohen, Clayton Failla, Edison Luis dos Santos (90+2’ Allan Kardeck dos Santos).
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Jean Paul Farrugia, Keith Tanti, Johann Bezzina, Brandon Muscat.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Darren Abdilla
Referee: Chris Lautier
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Thomas Debono
Fourth official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Tarabai, Zammit, Scerri, Failla, Lima, Muscat
Scorers: 27’ Shaun Bajada, 41’ Miguel Ciantar, 66’ Jonathan Pearson, 78’ Jackson di Lima Siqueira, 82’ Clayton Failla
In the first match, Mosta earned their first point after eight consecutive defeats as they managed to hold leaders Birkirkara in a goalless draw despite having to play for over fifty minutes in ten men.
Birkirkara could not field their best formation due to the absence of the suspended Alejandro Mendoza Corujo, Rodrigo Pereira, Rowen Muscat and Paul Fenech. However Mosta played a good game, defending well to keep their opponents at bay.
The Stripes went close to taking the lead on the 13th with attempts by Jhonnattann and Mifsud Triganza blocked by defenders following a cross by Herrera. A powerful shot by Ryan Scicluna was turned into a corner by Jeffrey Farrugia on 31 minutes. One minute later, Shola Shodiya served Yosimar Hernandez whose conclusion scraped past the post.
On the other side of the pitch, a Bryan Agius effort was turned into a corner by Justin Haber on 36 minutes.
Two minutes later, Danail Mitev was sent off by referee Fyodor Zammit after hitting Zach Muscat in an off-the-ball situation.
After the break, Mosta defended well, hardly allowing their opponents to shoot at goal. In fact, it was only in the dying minutes that Birkirkara went close with a Nikola Vukanac header which scraped past the post.
Jeffrey Farrugia was voted BOV Player of the Match.
MOSTA Jeffrey Farrugia, Ferdinando Apap, Tyrone Farrugia, Bryan Agius (69’ Jonathan Bajada), Manolito Micallef (78’ Bruno Chikwadu Mbonu), Ryan Grech, Danail Mitev, Kurt Magro, Alex Cini, Carlos Campagnoli, Fabio Vignaroli (90+1’ Steve Bezzina).
Subs not used: Noel Attard, Samuel Kehinde, Adrian Farrugia, Kurt Zammit
Coach: Danilo Doncic
Asst. Coach: Mark Vella
B’KARA Justin Haber, Yosimar Hernandez (64’ Ryan Camenzuli), Harun Shola Shodiya, Nikola Vukanac, Jhonnattann Benites da Conceicao, Gareth Sciberras, Joseph Zerafa (75’ Joselito dos Reis), Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Ryan Scicluna, Zach Muscat, Edward Herrera.
Subs not used: Reuben Gauci, Ini Etim Akpan, Godwin Mckay, David Spiteri, McAllister Clinch.
Coach: Paul Zammit
Asst. Coach: Peter Pullicino
Goalkeepers’ Coach: Simon Grech
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Albert Borg Cardona
Fourth official: Andre Arciola
Yellow Cards: M. Micallef, Z. Muscat
Red Cards: 38’ Danail Mitev