Hibernians will be facing Qormi in next Wednesday’s U*BET FA Trophy final after defeating Valletta 3-2 in a semi-final marked by two incidents surrounding two penalties towards the end of the first half.
In fact, Hibs were awarded a penalty eight minutes from the end of the first half and Valletta had two players sent off, including goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo, in a couple of minutes’ time. The Paolites went two goals ahead but in added time, it was the turn of Valletta to be awarded a penalty and reduce the gap with Hibs captain Mario Muscat being sent off. In the second half, Hibs increased the lead but Valletta narrowed the gap in added time.
This will be the second consecutive final between Hibs and Qormi after the Paolites won their ninth Trophy last year beating them 3-1.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg / MFA
The Paolites had the first attempt at goal with Bjorn Kristensen testing Manuel Bartolo with a header following a cross from the left on the 5th minute. Valletta replied with a powerful shot by Michael Mifsud which was blocked by Mario Muscat on the 11th.
A Ryan Fenech long-distance effort hit the upright on 17 minutes. On the 26th, Fenech concluded a good move on the left with a shot which was cleared into a corner by Failla. Two minutes later, following an assist by Denni for Mifsud, the latter’s shot was blocked by a defender.
Hibernians were awarded a penalty on the 37th after a shot by Clayton Failla was blocked by Jason Vandelannoite with the Belgian defender handling the ball. Vandelannoite was sent off and from the penalty spot, Clayton Failla’s effort was partially saved by Manuel Bartolo but off the rebound, Failla hit home. Manuel Bartolo was sent off immediately afterwards as he kicked an opponent.
With two men more, the Paolites took full advantage and doubled the score on the 45th when off an inviting pass by Marcelo Dias, Clayton Failla slotted the ball past substitute goalkeeper Yenz Cini.
However the first half was not over yet as two minutes in added time, Ryan Fenech was brought down inside the area by Hibs goalkeeper Mario Muscat. The referee ordered a penalty and sent off the Hibernians captain. From the penalty spot, Demba Toure converted to reduce the gap for Valletta.
Early in the second half, Mifsud had a shot from the right ending incredibly wide. Hibs replied with an Andrew Cohen effort ending high on the 49th. A minute later, a diagonal shot from the right by Tarabai scraped past the post. Michael Mifsud went close twice with shots which were blocked by defenders.
Hibernians increased the lead on 66 minutes thanks to Edison Luis dos Santos who stole the ball off a defender, beating Cini with a low shot from the left.
Andrew Cohen hit the upright with a direct freekick on the 84th.
Finally one minute in added time, a shot by Roderick Briffa, deflected by a defender, beat goalkeeper Daniel Balzan for a final 3-2 score.
VALLETTA Manuel Bartolo, Jonathan Caruana, Ian Azzopardi, Ryan Fenech, Michael Mifsud (75′ Abubakar Bello-Osagie), Roderick Briffa, William Barbosa (38′ Yenz Cini gk), Demba Toure, Denni Rocha dos Santos, Jason Lee Vandelannoite, Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Joao Gabriel da Silva, Edmond Agius, Joseph Jo Jo Ogunuppe, Dyson Falzon, Llywelyn Cremona.
Coach: Mark Miller
Asst. Coach: Gilbert Agius
Goalkeepers’ Coach: Reuben Debono
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Rodolfo Soares, Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen, Marcelo Dias, Clayton Failla, Zoran Levnajic (58′ Jackson di Lima Siqueira), Edison Luis dos Santos (79′ Obinna Obiefule), Jean Paul Farrugia (45+2′ Daniel Balzan gk).
Subs not used: Allan Kardeck dos Santos, Adrian Pulis, Brandon Muscat, Ayrton Azzopardi.
Coach: Michael Woods
Asst. Coach: Darren Abdilla
Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: William Debattista, Paul Apap
Additional Assistant Referees: Chris Lautier, Mario Apap
Fourth Official: Ingmar Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Azzopardi, Barbosa, Pearson, Caruana, Dimech
Red Cards: 37′ Jason Vandelannoite, 39′ Manuel Bartolo, 45+2′ Mario Muscat
Scorers: 39′ Clayton Failla, 45′ Clayton Failla, 45+2′ Demba Toure, 66′ Edison Luis dos Santos, 90+1′ Roderick Briffa