After suffering two consecutive defeats, Hibernians bounced back with a 4-2 win over Balzan in a clash between two teams who were still seeking their first points in the Championship Pool to move back in third place.
The Paolites now lie one point ahead of Sliema who however have a game in hand. For Balzan, this was the fourth consecutive defeat.
Coach Jesmond Zerafa could not count on Ramon dos Santos, Pedro Calcado and Dylan Grima.
Balzan took the lead after just two minutes when off an Edison Bilbao Zarate corner from the left, Andrew Scicluna’s header was not held by Jurgen Borg with the bhall ending at the back of the net.
Hibernians levelled matters on 22 minutes thanks to Jackson di Lima Siqueira whose close range effort hit the upright with the ball bouncing onto the goalkeeper and into the net.
Two minutes later, Hibs were awarded a penalty after Kurt Magro floored Obinna Obiefule inside the area. From the penalty spot, Clayton Failla converted to make it 2-1.
Three minutes in the second half, the Paolites increased the lead when following an assist by Obiefule for Tarabai, the latter served Clayton Failla whose diagonal shot from the left beat Bartolo.
Two minutes later, Obiefule was unlucky to hit the upright when all alone infront the goalkeeper following a cross from the right.
Balzan reduced the gap on 54 minutes thanks to a fine header by Mark Spiteri off a freekick from the left which gave Jurgen Borg no chance.
Hibs went close once again on 78 minutes when Tarabai served substitute Jean Paul Farrugia whose effort was blocked by the Balzan goalkeeper.
Two minutes in stoppage time, Manuel Bartolo performed a great save into a corner on Tarabai. From the resulting corner by Failla, the ball was blocked by a defender and off the rebound, Jean Paul Farrugia slammed the ball home.
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HIBS Jurgen Borg, Ryan Camilleri, Igor Radusinovic, Scott Chircop, Andrew Cohen (92′ Johann Bezzina), Bjorn Kristensen, Jackson di Lima Siqueira, Clayton Failla, Timothy Tabone Desira, Obinna Obiefule (69′ Jean Paul Farrugia), Edison Luis dos Santos.
Subs not used: Daniel Balzan, Jonathan Pearson, Matthew Bartolo, Brandon Muscat, Jurgen Degabriele.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
BALZAN Manuel Bartolo, Justin Grioli, Steve Bezzina, Andrew Scicluna, Kurt Magro, Fabio Vignaroli, Lydon Micallef, Mark Spiteri, Edison Luis Bilbao Zarate, Luke Sciberras (71′ Firas Aboulezz), Jose Luis Armario Negrin (62′ Ryan Darmanin).
Subs not used: Michael Falzon, Jacob Cipriott, Shaun Bugeja, Jordan Jason Nadalin, Charlie Fuller
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Thomas Debono, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Marco Borg
Yellow Cards: Bartolo, Tarabai, Grioli, Camilleri
Scorers: 2′ Andrew Scicluna (B); 21′ Jackson di Lima Siqueira (H); 25′ Clayton Failla pen (H); 48′ Clayton Failla (H); 54′ Mark Spiteri (B); 90+3′ Jean Paul Farrugia (H)
BOV Player of the Match: Clayton Failla