Hibernians extend positive run to move ten points clear

Hibernians ended the first round with an unbeaten record of ten wins and a draw as they defeated Balzan 3-0.

This was the second consecutive defeat for Balzan who have now gone five matches without a win although they are still fourth.

Hibernians had two changes from the team which defeated Naxxar 5-0 as Rui da Gracia Gomes and Andrew Cohen replaced Jackson Lima and Jonathan Pearson. Elkin Serrano returned for Balzan but Justin Grioli and Ice-Cream Guobadia were ruled out through suspension. Apart from Serrano, Luke Sciberras and Lydon Micallef were also named in the starting line-up with Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza starting on the bench.

The Paolites took the lead on 26 minutes when off an Andrew Cohen freekick from the left, Rodolfo Soares headed the ball home past goalkeeper Steve Sultana.

Seven minutes later, Hibernians doubled the score when off a cross from the right, the ball was deflected towards goal by Jorge Pereira with Rodolfo Soares tapping the ball home from close range.

In added time, Jorge Pereira da Silva missed an excellent opportunity when alone in front of the goalkeeper as his weak shot was parried by Sultana. A few seconds later, Clayton Failla was unlucky to hit the foot of the upright with a powerful drive from the left.

Hibernians scored the third goal four minutes in the second half thanks to Bjorn Kristensen who headed the ball home off a Clayton Failla freekick.

Balzan were reduced to ten men on the 57th after Clive Brincat picked a second yellow card.

The Paolites maintained the pressure and went close with a low shot by Tarabai and a swerving shot by Jorge Pereira, both ending just wide. Balzan replied with a Gianmmarco Piccioni freekick which was neutralised by Bonello. Finally on the 89th, Failla went close to adding another but his low shot from the edge of the area just missed the target.

BALZAN Steve Sultana, Elkin Serrano, Steve Bezzina, Fredrick Nonso Odebe (66′ Michael Borg), Edison Bilbao Zarate, Luke Sciberras (77′ Gianfranco Micallef), Samir Arab, Clive Brincat, Oscar Guerrero (70′ Ryan Darmanin), Lydon Micallef, Gianmarco Piccioni.
Subs not used: Christian Cassar, Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza, Shaun Bugeja, Daniel Spiteri.
Coach: Oliver Spiteri

HIBS Henry Bonello, Rodolfo Soares, Rui da Gracia Gomes, Marcelo Dias (66′ Joseph Essien Mbong), Andrew Cohen (71′ Jackson di Lima Siqueira), Bjorn Kristensen, Clayton Failla, Andrei Agius, Edison Luis dos Santos (75′ Jurgen Degabriele), Jorge Pereira da Silva, Johann Bezzina.
Subs not used: Jurgen Borg, Keith Tanti, Dunstan Vella, Zach Scerri.

Referee: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Mitchell Scerri, Jurgen Spiteri
Additional Assistant Referees: Adrian Azzopardi, Philip Farrugia
Fourth Official: Luke Portelli
Yellow Cards: Arab, Brincat, Agius, Sciberras, S. Bezzina, J. Bezzina, Zarate
Red Cards: 57′ Clive Brincat
Scorers: 26′ Rodolfo Soares, 33′ Rodolfo Soares, 50′ Bjorn Kristensen
BOV Player of the Match: Clayton Failla