After being the first team to inflict a defeat on Hibernians last season, Tarxien Rainbows were the first team to hold Hibernians in a draw this season to bring to an end the Paolites’ impressive run of seven consecutive wins.
Hibs now lie seven points ahead of second-placed Birkirkara, who however, have a game in hand. Tarxien, on the other hand, move sixth.
Hibernians coach Branko Nisevic had the full squad at his disposal. Tarxien, on the other hand, lacked Jonathan Debono and Carlos Menendez Hevia with goalkeeper Sean Cini starting in goal and Jorge Santos replacing Firas Aboulezz in the starting line-up
Hibernians forged ahead on 37 minutes thanks to a direct freekick by Clayton Failla which gave goalkeeper Sean Cini no chance.
Two minutes later, Hibs could have added another when Dias served Tarabai inside the area but the latter hit just over the bar. In added time, Jorginho was unlucky to hit the upright from close range and an acrobatic shot by Tarabai scraped past the upright.
On the hour, Alvaro Silva Branquinho concluded a good move with a good shot from the edge of the area which was parried by Henry Bonello. Four minutes later, Hibernians were reduced to ten men after Marcelo Dias received a second yellow card for a foul.
Tarxien restored equilibrium on the 74th minute when off a corner by Alvaro Silva Branquinho, Alessandro Lopes Pereira headed the ball for Wesley Pipico to place the ball at the back of the net. Pipico received a second yellow card for celebrating in front of the Hibs supporters and was therefore sent off.
HIBS Henry Bonelo, Rui da Gracia Gomes (66′ Jackson di Lima Siqueira), Rodolfo Soares, Marcelo Dias, Andrew Cohen (89′ Jurgen Degabriele), Bjorn Kristensen, Johann Bezzina (55′ Jonathan Pearson), Clayton Failla, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis dos Santos, Jorge da Silva Pereira.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Keith Tanti, Timothy Tabone Desira,Zach Scerri.
Coach: Branko Nisevic
TARXIEN Sean Cini, Owen Bugeja, Alvaro Andre Rodrigues Silva (91′ Manuel Caruana), Cleber Barbosa Viana (93′ Kane Paul Farrugia), Triston Caruana, Wesley Lima Silva, Ryan Sammut, Alex Cini, Matthew Tabone, Alessandro Lopes Pereira, Jorge Santos Silva (46′ Firas Aboulezz).
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Steve Sadowski, Luke Zahra, Manuel Xerri.
Coach: Clive Mizzi
Referee: Marco Borg
Assistant Referees: Edward Spiteri, Sammy Attard
Fourth Official: Trustin Farrugia Cann
Yellow Cards: Tabone, Dias, Jorge Santos, Bugeja, Caruana, Wesley Pipico, Jorginho, Kristensen
Red Cards: 64′ Marcelo Dias, 75′ Pipico
Scorers: 37′ Clayton Failla (H); 74′ Wesley Lima Silva
BOV Player of the Match: Alvaro Silva Branquinho
Attendance at the National Stadium: 1,474
Meanwhile Zebbug Rangers and Naxxar Lions continue to chase their first win as they shared the spoils in a 3-3 draw.
Under the guidance of new coach Jesmond Zerafa, Naxxar seemed heading towards their first win after coming back from one goal down to go 3-1 ahead but another good comeback by Zebbug enabled the latter to earn their third point – the others ironically obtained in two other 3-3 draws.
Zerafa made no changes from the team which had lost heavily to Hibernians in their last outing. On the other hand, Zebbug had Swiss midfielder Carlo Polli making his debut after joining the club last week. The inclusion of Carlo Polli and Lee James Agius, replacing Bojan Mamic and Matthew Bartolo, were the only changes from the team which lost narrowly to Sliema.
Zebbug managed to take the lead on the 17th minute when off a Matias Muchardi through pass, Mauricio Rodrigues Britto beat goalkeeper Julian Azzopardi with a fierce shot.
Five minutes later, Naxxar equalised thanks to a rising shot by Gilmar Da Silva Ribeiro which gave goalkeeper Jeffrey Farrugia no chance.
Naxxar took the lead on 29 minutes when Pape Gueye served Ryan Cassar with an intelligent back heel pass and the latter served Daren Falzon who slotted the ball past Farrugia.
Six minutes from the end of the first half, Naxxar were awarded a penalty after Clifford Gauci brought Terrance Vella down inside the area; from the penalty spot, Papa Gueye sent Farrugia the wrong side to put Naxxar 3-1 ahead.
The Lions ended in ten men seven minutes in the second half after Andrew Scicluna received a second yellow card.
Zebbug reduced the gap on 62 minutes when they were awarded a penalty by referee Adrian Azzopardi after Muchardi was floored by Cassar inside the area and from the penalty spot, Carlo Monti made no mistake.
The Rangers notched the equaliser eleven minutes later thanks to substitue Bojan Mamic who received a through pass by Monti and anticipated the goalkeeper by stretching his foot to lob the ball over him.
ZEBBUG Jeffrey Farrugia, Yessous Camilleri, Javier Serrano Diaz, Matthew Gauci, Jacob Borg, Clifford Gauci, Matthias Muchiardi, Carlo Gordon Monti, Mauricio Osmar Rodrigues Britto (92′ Miguel Ciantar) Lee James Agius (46′ John Nwoba), Carlo Polli (55′ Bojan Mamic).
Subs not used: Luke Pace, Thomas Paris, Lee Galea, Matthew Bartolo,
Coach: Jesmond Zammit
NAXXAR Julian Azzopardi, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Gilmar Da Silva Ribeiro, Mattia Del Negro, Edafe Uzeh (61′ Victor Bellia), Emmanuel Ibok Edet, Daren Falzon (71′ Uchenna Mbachu Emenike), Pape Gueye, David Alejandro Reano, Andrew Scicluna, Terrence Vella.
Subs not used: Luke Pecorella, Duane Bonnici, Jurgen Debono, Ryan Mercieca, Yaron Sammut.
Coach: Jesmond Zerafa
Referee: Adrian Azzopardi
Assistant referees: Alan Camilleri, Christopher Francalanza
Fourth Official: Christopher Lautier
Yellow Cards: D. Falzon, C. Gauci, A. Scicluna, C. Monti, M. Gauci, R. Cassar, B. Mamic, P. Gueye, D. Reano, J. Diaz
Red Cards: 48′ Andrew Scicluna
Scorers: 17’ Mauricio Rodrigues Britto (Z) 22’ Gilmar Da Silva Ribero (N), 29’ Daren Falzon (N); 39’ Papa Gueye (N); 62′ Carlo Monti (Z); 73′ Bojan Mamic penalty (Z)
BOV Player of the Match: Carlo Monti
Attendance at Victor Tedesco Stadium: 624