Hibernians extended their hundred percent record with a comfortable 4-0 win over Zebbug Rangers at the Victor Tedesco Stadium on Saturday. This was the sixth win in six matches for Branko Nisevic’s side.
Zebbug, therefore failed to keep the momentum after earning two points in two 3-3 draws in their last two outings.
Marcelo Dias and Keith Tanti were awarded a place in the starting line-up for Hibernians as Rui da Gracia Gomes and Timothy Tabone Desira were retained on the bench. Fabricio Rapchan started in goal for Zebbug, replacing Jeffrey Farrugia while Lee Galea and Matthew Bartolo replaced Thomas Paris and Bojan Mamic.
The Paolites took the lead on the 7th minute when the Balzan rear-guard managed to block a series of shots with the ball finally reaching Tarabai who served Andrew Cohen who placed the ball at the back of the net following a slight deflection.
Six minutes in the second half, Marcelo Dias exchanged the ball with Tarabai before the former squared low for Clayton Failla who beat goalkeeper Fabricio Rapchan.
Marcelo Dias made it 3-0 on 68 minutes after receiving a cross by Tarabai.
Three minutes later, Hibernians sealed the issue with a fourth goal thanks to Edison Luis dos Santos following a good move between Cohen and Failla.
HIBS Henry Bonello, Keith Tanti (64’ Jonathan Pearson), Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Andrew Cohen (80’ Jurgen Degabriele), Bjorn Kristensen, Jackson Lima, Clayton Failla, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis Dos Santos, Jorge da Silva Periera.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Timothy Tabone Desira, Rui da Gracia Gomes, Johann Bezzina, Joseph Essien Mbong
Coach: Branko Nisevic
ZEBBUG Fabricio Rapchan dos Santos Morales, Jonathan Xerri, Ratko Mandic (69’ Mauricio Osmar Rodrigues Britto), Matthew Bartolo (73’ Jacob Borg), Yessous Camilleri, Javier Diaz Serrano, Lee Galea, Clifford Gauci, Matias Muchardi, Carlo Gordon Monti, John Ogechukwu Nwoba (66’ Thomas Paris)
Subs not used: Luke Pace, Lee James Agius, Matthew Gauci, Miguel Ciantar.
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
Referee: Alan Mario Sant
Assistant referees: William Debattista, Paul Apap
Fourth Official: Sandro Spiteri
Yellow Cards: Nwoba, Kristensen, Mandic, Tarabai
Scorers: 7’ Andrew Cohen, 51’ Clayton Failla, 68’ Marcelo Dias, 71’ Edison Luis Dos Santos
BOV Player of the Match: Clayton Failla
Meanwhile at the National Stadium, Balzan brought Tarxien Rainbows’ positive run to an end as they defeated them by the odd goal in five in an entertaining clash. Balzan therefore bounced back following the narrow defeat to Mosta last week.
For the Rainbows, this was the first defeat after four draws and a win over Naxxar.
The Rainbows had two changes from the team which defeated Naxxar last week as Firas Aboulezz and Jorge Santos Silva replaced Alvaro Silva and Matthew Tabone in the starting line-up. Balzan, on the other hand, named Gianmarco Piccioni and Luke Sciberras in the starting line-up with Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza starting on the bench.
Tarxien almost took the lead after thirty seconds with a shot by Firas Aboulezz saved with particular difficulty by Steve Sultana and off the rebound, Jorge Santos Silva hit the upright.
However it was Balzan who forged ahead on the 4th minute when off a cross by Luke Sciberras from the right, Elkin Serrano served Gianmarco Piccioni who headed the ball home from close range.
On the hour, Gianmarco Piccioni just missed the target off an inviting cross by Guerrero. Five minutes later, Piccioni served substitute Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza whose angled shot from the right, after rounding the goalkeeper, was cleared off the goal line by Alex Cini.
Tarxien levelled matters on the 69th minute when off a shot by Wesley Pipico, Carlos Menendez Hevia headed the ball home from close range.
The Rainbows moved 2-1 ahead on 76 minutes when Alvaro Andre Rodrigues Silva received a through pass on the left, concluding with a low shot past goalkeeper Steve Sultana.
However Balzan restored equilibirum three minutes later through Edison David Bilbao Zarate who lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper before heading it home.
Deep into stoppage time, Balzan notched the winner after they were awarded a penalty when Mifsud Triganza was brought down inside the area and from the penalty spot, Gianmarco Piccioni converted.
After the final whistle, Tarxien had Spanish midfielder Carlos Menendez Hevia sent off after kicking an opponent.
BALZAN Steve Sultana, Justin Grioli, Steve Bezzina, Elkin Serrano, Edison Bilbao Zarate, Osa Ice-Cream Guobadia (82′ Michael Borg), Clive Brincat (83′ Fredrick Nonso Odebe), Lydon Micallef (59′ Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza), Oscar Guerrero, Luke Sciberras, Gianmarco Piccioni.
Subs not used: Mikhail Sciberras, Juan Corbalan, Samir Arab, Gianfranco Micallef.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri
TARXIEN Sean Cini, Kane Paul Farrugia, Manuel Caruana (56′ Matthew Tabone), Owen Bugeja (41′ Ryan Sammut), Triston Caruana, Firas Aboulezz (50′ Alvaro Andre Rodrigues Silva), Wesley Lima Silva, Carlos Menedez Hevia, Alex Cini, Alessandro Lopes Pereira, Jorge Santos Silva.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Steve Sadowski, Cleber Barbosa Viana, Manuel Xerri.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Referee: Fyodor Zammit
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Edward Spiteri
Fourth Official: Chris Lautier
Yellow Cards: Brincat, Bugeja, Hevia, S. Cini, K. Farrugia
Red Cards: 90+5′ Menendez Hevia
Scorers: 4′ Gianmarco Piccioni (B); 69′ Carlos Menendez Hevia (T); 76′ Alvaro Silva (T); 79′ Edison Bilbao Zarate (B); 90+5′
BOV Player of the Match: Edison Bilbao Zarate