Hibernians came back from two goals down to beat ten-man Valletta 3-2 to take sole leadership in the BOV Premier League table with maximum points from two matches.
The whole turning point was the dismissal of Denni Rocha dos Santos who was sent off just before half-time as after the break, the Citizens were just a shadow of the team which were clearly the better side in the first half.
Photo: Copyright © Joe Borg
With Jonathan Caruana still ruled out injured and Edmond Agius suspended, Mark Miller handed Shaun Bajada a place in the starting line-up. Branko Nisevic, on the other hand, had the full squad at his disposal as Rodolfo Soares was back after recovering from an injury.
The Citizens threatened the Hibs rear-guard after just two minutes with a fine cross shot by Aziz Corr Nyang from the right ending just over the bar.
Valletta took the lead on 22 minutes with a great rising shot by Denni Rocha dos Santos from the edge of the area which gave Mario Muscat no chance.
Eight minutes later, Hamza Barry doubled the score with a powerful shot from outside the area, deflected by a defender, which ended in the top right corner.
Five minutes from half-time, Andrew Cohen concluded a good move with a shot from outside the area ending high.
Three minutes later, Hibs reduced the gap when off a corner by Jackson Lima from the left, Zoran Levnajic headed the ball home following a deflection by a defender.
Just before the break, Valletta were reduced to ten men as Denni was sent off for hitting Ryan Camilleri.
Four minutes in the second half, the Paolites levelled matters when off a good run by Ryan Camilleri, he served Edison Luis dos Santos who hit home past the Valletta goalkeeper.
Bjorn Kristensen had a good header off a Jackson Lima freekick parried by Marino and then Jackson Lima tried hit luck with a long-distance shot which was also neutralised by the Italian goalkeeper. Marino then blocked a close-range effort by Andrew Cohen on 73 minutes. On the other side of the pitch, Mario Muscat performed a good save on a fine attempt by Shaun Bajada from the left.
Hibernians forged ahead on 76 minutes when Pietro Marino failed to clear the ball following an erratic clearance by Roderick Briffa with substitute Jean Paul Farrugia controlling the ball and placing the ball at the back of the net.
VALLETTA Pietro Marino, Ryan Fenech, Roderick Briffa, Hamza Barry, Aziz Corr Nyang, Shaun Bajada (83′ Ian Zammit), Denni Rocha dos Santos, Dyson Falzon (76’ Ian Azzopardi), Jason Lee Vandelannoite, Yessous Camilleri (53’ Abdelkarim Nafti), Luke Dimech.
Subs not used: Yenz Cini, Kurt Magro, Isaac McCarthy, Matthew Thorne.
Coach: Mark Miller
HIBS Mario Muscat, Ryan Camilleri, Jonathan Pearson, Jackson di Lima Siqeuira, Marcelo Dias (33’ Matthew Bartolo), Andrew Cohen, Bjorn Kristensen (69’ Jean Paul Farrugia), Clayton Failla, Zoran Levnajic (92′ Matthew Tabone), Edison Luis dos Santos.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Neil Chetcuti, Brandon Muscat, Obinna Obiefule.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Christopher Francalzana
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Soares, Kristensen, Tarabai, Bartolo, Dimech, Briffa
Red Cards: 45’ Denni Rocha dos Santos
Scorers: 22’ Denni Rocha dos Santos (V); 30’ Hamza Barry (V); 43’ Zoran Levnajic (H); 49’ Edison Luis dos Santos (H); 76’ Jean Paul Farrugia (H)
BOV Player of the Match: Ryan Camilleri